In Australian rules football, the greatest cliche of them all is when a coach says his side are “just happy to get the four points” when recording a win. The four points in this Women’s Ashes Test match – a standalone fixture in a multi-format bilateral series, and the first ever between the nations with a pink ball and under lights – really are vital. If Australia claim them, the Ashes will be safe in their custody, resolved before a single ball of the three T20s.
Two days out from the Test, Ellyse Perry said that Australia would be playing an “aggressive brand of cricket” in the fixture in order to wipe England out. Another great Australian expression, carrying with it little ambiguity. “That’s the way Australians team generally play,” noted England captain Heather Knight. “For us, it is about nullifying that and quieting them down and playing our way and standing up to them face to face.”
Putting the points tally of the broader series aside, this is a spectacle all on its own. “We don’t get to play Test cricket very often and to be involved in the first-ever Ashes day-night Test for male or female cricket is something the girls are relishing,” Knight said, adding that the boutique North Sydney Oval is a “brilliant ground that is perfect for women’s cricket”.
Rachael Haynes is a fraction less animated, agreeing with the proposition that pink-ball cricket is “overhyped” in an effort to normalise what is about to come over the next four days. “From our point of view we don’t want to think about it too much either way,” she said. “We want to just go out there and focus on the contest that is happening at the time.”
The tourists didn’t enjoy a perfect preparation for the ODIs due to rain, and their coach Mark Robinson is far from thrilled about the pitch they played a three-day warm-up game on in Blacktown ahead of this Test. “It probably resembles nothing like [the surface] we are going to play on,” he said. “It took chunks out of the ball so playing under the lights…