Women's Ashes 2023: The big talking points
Women's Ashes 2023: The big talking points

Women’s Ashes 2023: The big talking points

England will attempt to end a miserable past few years in the Women’s Ashes and topple Australia for the first time since 2013-14 when the multi-format series starts next week.

Here we assess some of the burning issues ahead of the curtain-raising one-off Test at Trent Bridge which begins next Thursday.

The greatest show

Heather Knight recently harked back to making her England debut in Mumbai in 2010 “in front of one man and his dog” and, as a student, having to explain to her tutor why she would be absent for a month. Thankfully those days are over.

The England captain was given equal billing alongside men’s counterpart Ben Stokes on a Tower Bridge projection last week and ticket sales for the ‘WAshes’ have already exceeded a combined 70,000 for the seven matches.


Even if there is still just a solitary Test, it will span five days in a break from the customary four-day affair – giving both teams a chance to claim a first Women’s Ashes win in whites since 2015. Barriers continue to be breached for Knight’s side as they will also play T20s at Edgbaston, the Kia Oval and Lord’s for the first time.

Lanning absence evens the odds?

Issy Wong may have only played on 13 occasions for England but the fast bowler seems to revel in being tormentor-in-(mis)chief, remarking last month about Australia: “It’s a pretty good time to play them.”

On the surface, this seems a peculiar comment given Australia’s all-out dominance for much of the last decade. They are the double world champions and have held the urn for the last eight years, beating England on their own patch twice in that time.

But there is a little substance to Wong’s claims with Rachael Haynes retiring last year and now totemic captain Meg Lanning withdrawing from the upcoming series due to medical issues. Are Australia more vulnerable now?

Unquestionably. Lanning is an exceptional captain and batter who has been in red-hot form. But her temporary successor Alyssa Healy is also a quality player, as are Ellyse Perry, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ashleigh Gardner and Jess Jonassen.

Australia are still overwhelming favourites to continue their stranglehold over England.

Who is the leader of England’s attack?

While Wong’s slightly provocative observation was rooted in Australia selecting one or two more unproven talents, England also look a little light in certain areas. Katherine Sciver-Brunt may have had a peripheral role given her scaling back of commitments but the seamer’s retirement robs England of crucial experience.

Wong has shown in the last 12 months she can step up and be counted when the heat is on – notably at this year’s Women’s Premier League – so it may be the 21-year-old steps into the considerable void left by Sciver-Brunt.

Fellow quick Kate Cross’ battle against a tropical disease has cut into her playing time so she may not be up to speed for the Test while Lauren Bell is relatively untested.


‘Jonball’ faces its acid test

Since succeeding Lisa Keightley as England head coach late last year, Jon Lewis has attempted to instil a more attacking mindset into his charges.

Lewis has taken his cues from working alongside Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes in the embryonic stages of the pair transforming the men’s Test side, sensing this is the best way to break Australia’s stranglehold on women’s cricket.

‘Jonball’ – the term coined by star all-rounder Nat Sciver-Brunt – has had modest returns so far with a semi-final exit at the 2023 T20 World Cup but it seems England will keep ploughing the same furrow when Australia are in town.

Pressure on Heather?

The decision to jettison Charlotte Edwards and promote Knight as England captain a little over seven years ago was controversial at the time. But barely 12 months into the role, Knight justified her ascension by leading England to a seminal World Cup triumph.

She has been unable to land a telling blow in the Women’s Ashes, with one drawn series and two heavy points defeats. A third this summer might draw scrutiny on her position even if Australia are one of the greatest sides of all time in women’s sport.

Knight remains the natural leader of this England team and her authoritative presence was missed at the sharp end of last year’s Commonwealth Games, a tournament she sat out because of injury.

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