Women face big test in Ashes defence

It is not ideal, Charlotte Edwards acknowledges, that over 14 years of international cricket, during which she has won a world-record 142 one-day international caps, she has played in only 12 Test matches.

"The more one-day cricket you play, the more you appreciate the long form of the game, especially as a batsman," the England captain said after completing preparations for a month-long tour of Australia which will see the tourists play three one-dayers and five T20 games before defending the Ashes in a one-off four-day Test in Sydney. "But the reality for women's international cricket at the moment is that there are not enough countries committing to developing a Test programme."

Only England and Australia, in fact, which must make it frustrating that the women's Ashes will depend on a single game. Nor, as things stand, will it be televised, although the T20 games in Adelaide and Melbourne will be played before the men's equivalent matches, and will therefore also be screened live in this country.

Edwards is philosophical. "It would have been great if it had been a three or five-match series. Hopefully it will be in the long run. It will be tense when the Test comes around, because one contribution or one mistake may swing the Ashes, but one-day cricket is where women's international cricket is going at the moment. Effectively we've been preparing for this tour for six months, we've been successful in Australia recently, and the one-day series will be very exciting."

Edwards is taking an experienced squad Down Under. The return of Yorkshire pace bowler Katherine Brunt, fit again after rehabilitation and conditioning work, is welcome. "We're going out there as strong as we can, and playing in front of what are likely to be big crowds at the T20s will be exciting.

"It's something we're looking to do more in England, before county games and international games, because it's a great atmosphere and it exposes us to a bigger audience. It's a new experience for some younger players. I'm confident they have the talent to thrive."

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