England women yearn for real Test as tour gets serious

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The Independent Online

This Ashes series has left plenty of cricket lovers yearning for more, but perhaps none more so than the England women's team. They play the first serious match of their own Australian tour early tomorrow morning but it's a one-day contest rather than a Test match. Women's cricket revolves around the one-day game; the solitary multi-day match of their tour will come later this month, when they defend the Ashes in Sydney.

The fact is that there aren't many Test matches in the women's game, and there never have been. Since England retained the Ashes Down Under in 2008, they've played a single Test, when they kept the urn with a draw at Worcester in 2009. The record-holder for Tests played in the women's game is Janette Brittin, the former England opening bat, who played in just 27 Tests between 1979 and 1998. By contrast, Sachin Tendulkar is currently involved in his 177th Test.

This is something the England side would clearly like to see change. "I would love to play more Tests but unfortunately the way the women's game is going at the moment is, to raise the profile of the game, we're playing a lot more Twenty20 cricket, and I completely understand that," said the seamer Isa Guha. "In the women's game there is just not enough time to play a long Test series and people are pushing more for the T20s and ODIs, so unfortunately Test cricket does lose out."

It's a point that Guha's captain Charlotte Edwards (who has played 18 Tests in 14 years) made before England set off for Australia: there have been longer Ashes contests in the past – a five-match series was played Down Under in 1984-85 – but for the moment the focus is on the shorter forms.

Today's game in Perth is the first of three one-day internationals before five Twenty20 games – two of them, at Adelaide on 12 January and Melbourne on 14 January, to be played before a men's T20 and televised live. England are confident having recently toured Sri Lanka undefeated and comfortably beaten Western Australia in two warm-up games.

Nonetheless, as Edwards points out, Australia ("the Southern Stars") will be a tough opponent having turned to talented young hopefuls such as the 19-year-old all-rounder Sarah Coyte. Edwards said: "We're going to come up against a very good Australian team, but we're ready for them. They're quite a young side; they've picked a few young players but from all accounts some very talented players.

"I think we'll be very evenly matched. I think at the moment we're the best two teams in the world so it's going to be one of our toughest Tests, but one we're really looking forward to."

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