After the humiliating men’s series, which England lost 4-0, the women begin their multi-format Ashes series in Adelaide on Thursday (8.10am UK, BT Sport).
The series, running from January 20 to February 8, consists of three T20s, as many one-day internationals and a solitary four-day Test Match.
We start with the trio of T20s, all at Adelaide, before the Test at Canberra and the ODIs in Canberra and Melbourne.
In terms of the points structure which decides the winner, four points are available for winning the Test and two apiece for a draw. A limited overs win brings two points, while a No Result or tie brings about a point apiece.
A chance to make history
Both sides have the chance to create history in 2022, with the Ashes followed immediately by the one-day World Cup in New Zealand and then the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer.
T20 cricket has been introduced into the Games for the first time.
Never mind MBEs and OBEs, the likes of Heather Knight, Katherine Brunt and Nat Sciver should all be made Dames if England, reigning World Cup champions, win the lot!
Disrupted preparation for both sides
The build-up to this Ashes series hasn’t been plain sailing for either side as Coronavirus continues to wreak havoc.
Prior to flying to Australia on January 7, England’s players had to undergo 10 days of isolation at home, only allowed out to train with members of their own household.
For someone like Lauren Winfield-Hill, whose Aussie wife Courtney is the head of the Yorkshire-based Northern Diamonds Academy and a former state cricketer herself, this wasn’t too much of an issue.
But, for others, it was more tricky. Mums and Dads were feeding bowling machines or sticking the pads on and facing up to bowlers. It seems like it got quite comical at times.
For the Australians, while many of their players have been playing state cricket, their captain Meg Lanning for example hasn’t played any cricket since the Big Bash in late November.
They have also had to deal with the complications surrounding Australia’s strict Covid protocols, which make interstate travel difficult.
Australia have also suffered the major blow of losing key batter Beth Mooney, who has undergone surgery on a broken jaw suffered in the nets earlier this week.
The leading run-scorer in the most recent BBL, played in October and November, with 547 runs could miss the entire series.January 13, 2022
Back England to get off to a flyer with this 12/5 shot
Australia are favourites, and rightly so. They are the number one side in the world and are on their home turf. But don’t rule England – 7/4 to win the series with bet365 – out.
Since the last T20 World Cup in Australia in early 2020, which the hosts won, England have beaten New Zealand twice, the West Indies and India across the various formats.
In the home summer just gone, they beat India in a multi-format series and New Zealand in T20 and one-day cricket and are sky-high with confidence.
Australia are also on a winning streak, last beating India in a multi-format series in October. But they do have the odd issue.
There are some question marks over star all-rounder Ellyse Perry’s role in the side. In her last 23 internationals, dating back to January 2020, she has only scored two half-centuries and has had limited success with the ball.
Bet365 are also offering a correct score market on the T20 series alone, and I fancy England to win that 2-1 (12/5 at bet365) and get off to a great start.
Their top order of Tommy Beaumont, Danni Wyatt, Heather Knight, Nat Sciver, Amy Jones and Sophia Dunkley has plenty of power, while the likes of Katherine Brunt and Sophie Ecclestone ooze class with the ball.
In a warm-up match against England A earlier this week, left-arm spinner Ecclestone returned incredible figures of 7-14 from four overs.January 17, 2022
Wyatt to whack ‘em in Thursday’s series opener
After some sketchy form, Danni Wyatt came good for England during the second half of last summer.
The powerful opening batter hit a stunning unbeaten 89 in a T20 against India at Chelmsford in mid-July before posting scores of 35, 35, 63 not out, 27 and 43 not out in one-day and T20 games against New Zealand in September.
Wyatt is ideally suited to T20 cricket and at 10/3 with bet365 looks good value to be England’s top run-scorer when the sides open the series with a T20 clash at Adelaide Oval on Thursday morning.
She could make use of the powerplay and be difficult to reel in. If that is the case, the 12/1 at bet365 on her to be player of the match has some appeal.
If you want to look to the Australians for a performance, then all-rounder Ash Gardner’s match performance marker of over 32.5 at 5/6 with bet365 looks good.
For that, you get one point per run, 20 points per wicket and 10 per catch. As a power hitter, a canny off-spinner and an athletic fielder, she has every chance of returning points for all three disciplines.
This bet looks the safest of all offered above.January 18, 2022