Australia is set to begin their Ashes retainer campaign at Nottinghamshire against England with a historic five-day Ashes 2023 test match. While Australia has been retaining the Ashes since 2015, England needs to start with a fresh perspective, devoid of their 12-4 defeat in the last two multi-format Ashes Series.
The last time these sides met in Australia, the test match was lit by Heather Knights’s unbeaten 168 and the dramatic turn of events in the last session where the test swang in almost every hour. Chasing 258 in 48 overs, England needed 40 odd runs in the last 8 overs with 7 wickets in hand.
But Lanning led Australia to pull things back, England lost wickets in pair and Kate Cross as number 11 defended the last ball of the match from King, safely. Australia was stranded one wicket from the victory while England was 12 runs short of the target.
Australia will be without their two batting stalwarts in the Ashes 2023 Test match. Meg Lanning is going to miss the series due to health concerns while Haynes, the player they look up to in the moment of crisis, has taken retirement from international cricket. In 2022, both Lanning and Haynes rescued Australia from 43/3 in the first innings, adding 169 for the 4th wicket before the middle order took the total to 337.
Without these two batters, Australia will be depending on their star-studded middle-order batting lineup in the Ashes 2023. While there have been speculations that Healy might bat down the order to tackle the work pressure and settle the nerves in that case, opener Phoebe Litchfield might be given the responsibility to give a solid start. She has been the talk of the town in the Australian Domestic circuit and has risen to the ranks.
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She made her debut in limited-over cricket in Australia’s last series and will look forward to living up to the reputation in the longer formats of the game.
Along with that, in the absence of Rachael Hyanes, it is most likely that like the shorter format of the games, Mooney too might be promoted at the top of the order. Mooney who has proved her prowess in th shorter formats of the game would love to replicate the thing in the red ball cricket as well. She scored 3 and 63, the last time both of them met and one can hope for a big score in the absence of two English legends, Katherine Sciver Brunt and Anya Shrubsole.
Even if England ran through the top order, the Australian middle order comprised of Perry-MacGrath-Healy and Gardner will once again be ready to take charge. Perry who had scored 213* and 116 in 2017 and 2019, will once again look forward to replicating the same. Both T-Mac (52 and 34) and Ash Gardner (56 and 38) made useful contributions in the first innings while making quickfire runs in the 2nd so that they have ample time to defend it.
Apart from her batting abilities, Ash, the no-one-off spinner in the side, need to share the workload in the three-pronged spin attack in the form of Jess Jonassen and Alana King.
One of the concerns that remains is about the selection of the final XI. If Australia is going to play two leg spinners in the form of Wareham and King then they have to drop one of their remaining two spinners, which would hamper their batting. Another scenario is if they decide to go with the specialist seamer in the form of Brown and Schutt and use TMac as 3rd seamer with 4 spinners in the arsenal.
Another important factor would be if they choose Suttherthalnd or Kim Grath for the 3rd seamer if they decide to boost their seam bowling lineup.
Tammy Beaumont scored in double hundred in the practice match while Heather Knight and Nat Sciver both scored big hundred in England’s last two test outings as well. England concern’s lies in the new-look bowling lineup. In the absence of Katherin Brunt and Anya Shrubsole, their prominent two fast Bowlers, their seam attack look sleek. They chose Lauren Filler over Issy Wong along with Lauren Bell and Kate Cross.
The spinner they chose is Sophie Ecclestone for the Ashes 2023 who has a modest outing in the longer formats of the game. They also released their two all-rounder Allice Richard Davidson and Alice Capsey, which means they need to rely on the offspin of the skipper herself in the moment of need.
Emma Lamb has been given another chance, over Lauren Winfiled-Hill while Danni Wyatt is set to make her debut in the whites in the Ashes 2023. Along with Amy Jones and Sophie Dunkley, she needs to give the firepower in the lower order. Though England skipper Heather Knight has mentioned that they dont want to imitate their male counterpart, the inclusion of Wyatt suggests that it is her aggressive batting that might have given her the edge over others.
Ashes 2023: Squads
Australia Squad: Alyssa Healy (c), Tahlia McGrath (vc), Darcie Brown, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Grace Harris, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham
Probable XI: Beth Mooney, Phoebe Litchfield, Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy (c), Tahlia McGrath (vc), Ashleigh Gardner, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Kim Garth, Darcie Brown, Megan Schutt
England Test squad: Heather Knight (c), Natalie Sciver-Brunt (vc), Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Bell, Alice Capsey, Kate Cross, Alice Davidson-Richards, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Lauren Filer, Danielle Gibson, Amy Jones, Emma Lamb, Issy Wong, Danielle Wyatt
England XI: Heather Knight (c), Natalie Sciver-Brunt (vc), Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Bell, Kate Cross, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Lauren Filer, Amy Jones, Emma Lamb, Danielle Wyatt.