A few brief thoughts:
- This squad contains all of the 13 players that played in the World Cup, which does make sense – why change a winning formula?
- Sophie Ecclestone coming into the squad is a no-brainer. A few weeks back we watched her take 6-12 against Warwickshire – she didn’t just deny them the Championship title, but actually bowled Lancashire back into contention (they went on to win it). Then at Chelmsford last week in the warm-up match she set the the pink ball on fire – taking 3 wickets in one over and finishing the first innings with 5-34. If there had been any doubt left in Mark Robinson’s mind, Ecclestone stomped all over it.
- Having said that, I’m a bit surprised that Beth Langston, Tash Farrant AND Freya Davies are all being left behind. Australia are a much stronger side with the bat right now than they are with the ball (cf: Chamari Atapattu and Harmanpreet Kaur). I’d personally have gone for a bowler-heavy squad – especially given that England have to bowl Australia out twice in order to win the Test match. Essentially you’re relying on Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole to take the strain across four days – and that worries me. Especially because…
- … do we know how fully recovered Anya Shrubsole is from the side strain that left her sitting out of the first half of the Super League? Given her propensity to not last out for the whole of these long Ashes tours without picking up an injury or two, it seems even more strange to send her out with a pre-existing one, and NOT send back-up.
- England now have two left-arm spinners at their disposal throughout the tour, which creates an interesting selection dilemma for Robinson. On the one hand you surely don’t drop Alex Hartley, given the way she bowled in England’s World Cup game against Australia? On the other hand Mark Robinson clearly thinks Ecclestone is the future (especially now she’s finished school – something he specifically mentioned in the press release), or she wouldn’t be on the plane at all. Perhaps Robinson might even play both of them in the same match?
- For the last women’s Ashes in Australia (in Jan/Feb 2014) England got around the 15-player squad restrictions by naming a separate squad for the T20 leg of the series. They haven’t done that this time, for reasons known only to Robinson & co, and I think it could be an error. This is a long old tour – last time around they could barely cobble together 11 fit players by the end of it, and the ECB’s own Beth Barrett-Wild was threatened with having to take the field! Of course they (sort of) have Kate Cross and Amy Jones at their disposal were anything to go wrong – but that’s not quite the same as having an extra player actually in the camp.