The England team that visits Australia for the next Women’s Ashes “Down Under”, in around about 2026, is likely to be very different to the side that has just suffered a comprehensive defeat in 2022.
By 2026, most of the batters who started this series will have retired – Heather Knight and Lauren Winfield-Hill will be 35, Tammy Beaumont and Danni Wyatt 34, Nat Sciver 33 and Amy Jones 32. Of the bowlers, Katherine Brunt will be 40 and Anya Shrubsole 34.
So what might England look like in 2026?
In the spirit of seeking out a “Next Generation”, I’ve deliberately not included anyone who will be 30 (or older) in 4 years time. But this still leaves us with a team with an average age of 25, and plenty of experience behind them, bearing in mind that all of these players are already playing regional cricket and The Hundred.
- Emma Lamb (Age 28, in 2026)
- Bryony Smith (28)
- Grace Scrivens (22) (Vice Captain)
- Alice Capsey (21)
- Sophia Dunkley (27) (Captain)
- Dani Gibson (24)
- Bess Heath (24) (Wicket Keeper)
- Charlie Dean (25)
- Sophie Ecclestone (26)
- Emily Arlott (27)
- Lauren Bell (25)
Will this be the team in 2026? Almost certainly not – it’s a bit spin-heavy, for starters! And anything could happen. Maybe one of the regional pros currently in their mid-to-late-20s will have a late-career “burst” and step up to international cricket aged 30? Perhaps one of the players listed will be being kept out of the side by a then-18-year-old we’ve currently never head of – the next Alice Capsey, who breaks through in 2024/25? Or, who knows, Katherine Brunt could still be steaming in aged 40, dropping hints about her coming retirement… after one last hurrah at the 2029 World Cup!
But the core of the side is likely to look a lot like this, and the important point is that this isn’t just an academic question – this is where we should be focussing our resources and investment in regional cricket over the next 4 years. In particular, let’s make sure that all these players are given proper opportunities in The Hundred, batting up the order and bowling their full quota of balls; perhaps even by tweaking the playing conditions to prevent sides limiting the opportunities of young players, because they’ve got 3 international all-rounders who bat in the top 4 and bowl 60 balls between them?
Of course this doesn’t guarantee we’ll bring home the Ashes next time we’re over there, but it might help to make it a bit more competitive than it has been this time around.