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England v Australia Women Ashes

If the women’s Ashes Test that starts at Trent Bridge on Thursday can provide only half the excitement and watchability of the men’s England v Australia Test just finished, then they will be doing well.

England Women don’t play “Bazball” but they do offer “Knightball” – a more attacking form of the game more recently demanded by captain Heather Knight than the style her team have previously been renowned for.

Still, they will have to go some to beat Australia Women in this five-day Test, or the series as a whole, even though the Aussies are without their biggest name player and captain, Meg Lanning, because of a medical issue.

Unlike the men’s Ashes, which features five Test matches, the women’s version is a multi-format, points-based encounter.

Running to July 18, the women’s Ashes includes one Test, three Twenty20 internationals and three one-day (50-over) internationals.

An ODI or T20 victory earns two points and a tie means one point for each team, while there are four points awarded to the winners of the Test, with each side awarded two points for a draw.

This year’s Test will last five days rather than four, which has been the traditional length in the women’s game.

Australia are the Ashes holders after a sustained period of success in the competition.

It is 10 years since the introduction of the multi-format system and the structure of the competition appears to suit Australia, who are also world champions in the ODI and T20 formats.

They crushed England 12-4 in 2019 and 2022, having previously drawn in 2017 and won in 2015.

England failed to win a single game in last year’s Ashes and have not been triumphant since 2014, though they did win the first two series decided by the points system.

But Knight’s team have not beaten Australia in any format since the final match of the 2019 Ashes, a dead-rubber T20 in Bristol.

They do, though, have a new coach in Jon Lewis and are rebranding themselves as an aggressive, fearless outfit – a mode of cricket Australia have embodied throughout their golden period of world domination.

“(Jon Lewis) coming in and having a new philosophy of how we want to play cricket is really exciting and we’re all trying to buy into that as best we can with a format that we don’t play a lot of,” says England seamer Kate Cross.

“That’s why we’re all here – we want to win the Ashes back.”

With Lanning absent, Alyssa Healy takes over as captain of an Australian team looking for emerging talent Phoebe Litchfield to star on her first Ashes tour.

Litchfield, 20, smashed half-centuries in her first two ODIs against Pakistan in January and is the only new face in the Australia squad after they won a third consecutive T20 World Cup in February.

Fast bowler Lauren Filer will make her England debut.

Filer got the nod ahead of Issy Wong following an impressive run of form, having taken 13 wickets across the Charlotte Edwards Cup and Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy this season.

The 22-year-old joins Kate Cross and Lauren Bell in the seam attack. Left-armer Sophie Ecclestone is the sole specialist spinner, while all-rounder Natalie Sciver-Brunt provides another pace option.

Batter Danni Wyatt, who has played 245 white-ball matches for England, will also make her Test debut on Thursday.

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