This article was first written and published by the Roar.
This Sunday, the Australian women’s cricket team will play in their final game for the summer when they take on the New Zealand White Ferns in game three of the Rose Bowl series.
It’s been an exceptionally successful series for the Aussie women, who reclaimed the Rose Bowl trophy with their 95-run win over New Zealand last Sunday and continued their dominance over the White Ferns in this format (Australia have held the trophy without interruption since 2000).
While the team has been successful, it would be remiss not to mention some impressive individual performances and milestones.
Take Jess Jonassen, who only returned to the ODI squad for this series given her battles with injury at the start of the summer.
In the first game where Australia beat New Zealand by five runs at the WACA, Jess took 4-43 and also scored 36 runs. Jess backed that up with career-best figures of 5-27 on Monday at Karen Rolton Oval with her parents proudly watching in the stands (Jess’s father is battling some health issues, so he does not always get the opportunity to watch his daughter play).
In that same game, Ellyse Perry continued her summer of dominance with the bat, scoring her maiden ODI century, finishing her innings on 107 not out.
But in a similar fashion to the double century she scored at North Sydney Oval during the Ashes in 2017 (where she celebrated the milestone a couple of balls too early after she mistakenly thought she had hit a six), this occasion was also not straightforward.
Ellyse was sitting on 97 with two balls remaining. On the second last ball of the day, Ellyse hit Hayley Jensen hard, but found the fielder in Anna Peterson on the boundary. Fortunately for Ellyse, Anna dropped the simple catch and then proceeded to watch the ball roll over the boundary.
On the final ball, Ellyse finished a superb innings with a six.
My favourite stat from this game (which reflects just how hard Ellyse has been working on her batting) is that it took Ellyse 42 innings to reach 500 ODI runs and just another ten to reach 1000.
When reflecting on this summer, what immediately comes to mind is how dominant the Aussie women have been, as well as the across the board improvement in the WBBL overall.
But despite the dominance of the Aussie women, it’s important to highlight just how busy their schedule has been this summer. The team has played more cricket than ever before and has continued to perform at an exceptionally high level.
Summer started in September with the opening round of the domestic WNCL competition, followed by a three-match T20I series against New Zealand. The Australian women then went straight to Malaysia to play Pakistan in three ODIs and three T20Is.
From there, the team went straight to the Caribbean and won their fourth T20 World Cup. Then three days after arriving home, these women went straight into the WBBL followed by the final two rounds of the WNCL and then the final of the WNCL which many of the Australian women featured in.
Then just two weeks later, summer is concluding with this Rose Bowl series.
And even though summer is concluding, there isn’t much time between this conclusion of this Rose Bowl series and the next hit out for the Aussie women. In July the team will travel to England to contest the multi-format Ashes series, they will then play a limited overs series against the West Indies women, followed by a series at home in Sri Lanka before the commencement of the WBBL in October.
Given the success of the WBBL, a decision has been made by Cricket Australia to move the tournament forward by two months to give it more space (i.e. not played at the same time as the BBL). There’s been plenty of debate about whether this is the right time to play cricket given that winter sports have just ended and that part of the appeal of the BBL is that kids are on school holidays (and at in October, the kids are still at school).
I’m looking forward to the change and think it will give the WBBL the chance to shine, particularly since Cricket Australia has indicated that it is looking to play the competition as a series of weekend carnivals (like they did for the opening three rounds this year), giving fans all over the country the opportunity to watch a couple of games over a two or three-day period.
I’m also hopeful that all games will be played on weekends rather than during the day and will mean more consistent scheduling, rather than the ad hoc manner the competition seems to have been played in the previous season.
My big question though is what will be done with the women’s domestic competition, the WNCL. At the moment this competition is three rounds, with one round of finals and is played around the WBBL so it is exceptionally interrupted. This year there was one round played before the WBBL started and then another two rounds played at the end.
With the WBBL moving forward, this gives Cricket Australia to extend the WNCL into a full home and away season and give women the opportunity to play the longer format of the game. I think this would be a welcome move and would place emphasis on the domestic competition and potentially give players less suited to the T20 form of the game an opportunity to play more cricket.
Then, following the conclusion of these two competitions, the Australian women will play in an ICC T20 World Cup to be held on Aussie shores.
Summer may be ending now, but is it too early to start counting the days until the next one? And while this summer may have been the biggest one yet, it seems that when it comes to women’s cricket, we’re just getting started.