With the English women's team suffering the embarrassment of losing to the NSW first XI and then the NSW second XI this week, the Australian team has also had its hiccups in the leadup to tomorrow's one-day international at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Australia - whose commercially-correct title is The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars - were beaten by their own second-eleven yesterday, the Australia "A" triumphant by 27 runs.
The match, at Old King's Oval, Parramatta, was intended to give the Southern Stars some valuable practice before entering into their four-game encounter with the English tourists. At first, it looked straightforward enough. Australia A scored 8/156 in their fifty overs. Melanie Jones, whose omission from the Australian squad was a surprise, top scored for the A-team with 47, while Victorian duo Cathryn Fitzpatrick and Charmaine Mason took three wickets each.
The chase for 157, however, was too much for the Southern Stars, who were bundled out for 129 in 48.3 overs, the last seven wickets falling for 25 runs. Joanne Broadbent (48) was the only Australian batsman to put together a total of note, with ex-Australian seamers Bronwyn Calver (3/19) and Zoe Goss (3/20) doing the damage.
News of the Australian loss at Parramatta would have belated solace for the English camp, beaten at the same time about 15 kilometres away by a New South Wales second eleven at Bankstown Oval. The English media, taking a breather from rubbishing the England men's team in South Africa or the Under-19's in Sri Lanka, today quoted team manager Paul Farbrace as saying "I can't say I am approaching Saturday with apprehension... I am approaching the whole of the next month with apprehension."
Today's Daily Telegraph (London) goes on to quote Farbrace as saying "At the moment I know what team I'd pick - none of them."
Australia has won its last six one-day internationals against England, including a 5-0 clean-sweep in England in 1998. England's last victory over Australia was in the 1993 World Cup. In 27 meetings dating back to 1973, Australia has won 19 and England 6, with one tied and one abandoned.
Play begins at the Sydney Cricket Ground in the first of the four-match series tomorrow Saturday at 10am local time (2300GMT Friday). CricInfo will provide live ball-by-ball coverage.