Women's Ashes gets revamp
The Women's Ashes has been revamped and from this summer will be contested over seven matches across all formats of the game.
The new series, devised between the ECB and Cricket Australia, is designed to protect the integrity of women's Test-match cricket by piggybacking on the success of women's limited-overs cricket.
England v Australia is the sole remaining competition in Test cricket in the women's game but for the past three series has consisted of just one match. To help maintain the fixture, three one-day internationals and three Twenty20s have been added to create a new multi-format Ashes series.
Points will be allocated to each match, six for the Test and two each for the one-day matches, with the side winning the most points taking home the wooden ball - the women's version of the urn which contains a bat that was burnt in the Harris Garden at Lord's in 1998.
"We've talked with Cricket Australia for a while about how to preserve women's Test cricket when neither team plays any multi-day domestic cricket," Clare Connor, head of England Women's cricket, said. "This format is hopefully a way of combining the tradition and prestige of the Ashes and Test cricket, while also recognising the reality that it's the limited-overs formats which have particularly grown and raised the profile of the women's game.
"We think we've got something that's going to give real context to the women's summer and sustain the enthusiasm and interest in the series. We believe that this new multi-format series will gain significantly more profile and context than can be generated by playing a one-off Test match every couple of years. It is an innovative way forward."
The Women's Ashes will now be played throughout August, beginning with the Test match at Wormsley on August 11 and concluding with the third ODI at Durham on August 31, quite a departure from the five-match Test series that comprises the men's Ashes.
"We thought long and hard about whether to keep the word 'Ashes' in there because it's a rebranding for what the Ashes means," Connor said. "We spoke to the MCC and Cricket Australia and decided that we did still want to keep 'Ashes' as the name for the series while embracing all the formats. Hopefully once the message is clear and the points system is clear, people will see that it gives real credibility and context."
Belinda Clark, Cricket Australia senior manager - Centre of Excellence, added: "Cricket contests between Australia and England have a special place in the hearts and minds of players and the public. The new Women's Ashes format acknowledges the past, embraces the present and takes a bold step towards the future."
Australia Women currently hold the Ashes after beating England by seven wickets in Sydney in January 2011. England had previously held the Ashes since 2005.