Australia need a flying start in Women’s Ashes, says Lanning

Australia captain Meg Lanning has stressed the importance of starting the women’s Ashes with a bang, but refrained from revealing whether Ellyse Perry will feature in Thursday’s opening T20 game.

Australia and England reignite their rivalry at the Adelaide Oval with the first of three T20s before next week’s Test, beginning on Thursday in Canberra.

Meg Lanning (left) and Heather Knight (right) with the Women’s Ashes trophy in Adelaide on Wednesday. Credit:Getty

T20 and one-day victories are worth two points each, while the victorious team will collect four points in the Test.

Australia have held the Ashes since 2015, winning two series (2015 and 2019) and drawing another, in 2017-18. Australia won all three ODIs in 2019 and two of the three T20s in that series.

Women’s Ashes fixtures

January 20: 1st T20I, 6:40pm, Adelaide Oval (two points)

January 22: 2nd T20I, 1:40pm, Adelaide Oval (two points)

January 23: 3rd T20I, 1:40pm, Adelaide Oval (two points)

January 27 – January 30: Test Match, 10am, Manuka Oval, Canberra (four points)

 February 3: 1st ODI, 2:10pm, Manuka Oval, Canberra (two points)

February 6: 2nd ODI, 10:05am, Junction Oval, Melbourne  (two points)

February 8: 3rd ODI, 10:05am, Junction Oval, Melbourne (two points)

If Australia win all three T20s, they would only need to win one of the remaining four fixtures to retain the Ashes.

“We’ve seen that in past Ashes series – if teams get off to a flyer, they’re usually pretty hard to chase down,” Lanning said. “Both sides will be looking at these first three T20s to get ahead in the series and put the other side under pressure. We know how important tomorrow is to be able to set a marker.

“There’s been a lot of meetings and chat, but now we get to play cricket.”

Lanning’s counterpart, England skipper Heather Knight, admitted her team’s build-up had been far from smooth sailing.

Lockdowns in the UK and a COVID scare in the camp have her team underprepared, but you won’t hear any excuses from them during the series.

“[Preparations have been] quite average to be fair, with COVID pretty rife back in the UK,” Knight said. “The two weeks [before we got] on the flight, we had to train completely individually as households. We’ve got mums feeding bowling machines, boyfriends and girlfriends slinging [balls down] … any family member helping out, which was great. It was a real team effort and to get all the players on that flight was really outstanding for the girls. It’s tough around the Christmas period being isolated.

Ellyse Perry working on her bowling in Adelaide. Credit:Getty

“We’ve got here and had a few hiccups. Now we’ve got to Adelaide we feel like we can focus on the cricket and be really clear. There’s no point moaning about it and using it as an excuse.”

Australia have lost just one of their past eight T20 matches against England since 2018, with one being a tie.

The big question is whether Perry will be picked in the Australian XI, with speculation she may miss out.

Lanning said a decision was set to be made on Wednesday evening regarding Perry.

“We haven’t finalised our team yet,” Lanning said. “She arrived with us last night, a few days later than expected, but she’s with the squad now and available for selection. We’ll work out what our best line-up is and find out tomorrow.”

Knight was quizzed on whether Australia would be a weaker team without Perry. She batted away the question but did say she felt T20 cricket to be Perry’s weakest format.

“I do know Ellyse is a world-class player and I guess T20 isn’t probably her stronger suit,” Knight said. “That’s not really for me to comment [on her selection]. She’s a huge boost for them in the ODI and T20 Test-match team. We’ll see whoever they play in the game and put our plans in place.

“They are an extremely good side. They are world champions and we are going to have to be extremely positive and trust our game massively against them. They’re very aggressive and we want to be exactly the same and go back at them.”

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