Rachael Haynes will step into the breach as Australia's captain during the forthcoming Ashes series, with a pressing need to find a way to succeed without the runs and leadership of the injured Meg Lanning.
Having already deputised for Lanning when shoulder problems interrupted her World Cup campaign earlier this year, Haynes has some idea of what lies ahead. But the task of leading Australia through a multi-format series against England, including the first-ever day-night Ashes Test at North Sydney Oval in November, will be a considerable one. Lanning has since had shoulder surgery that will keep her out of the entire series.
"To be named captain of your country, particularly in such a big series like the Ashes is a huge honour," Haynes said. "It's going to be a really exciting series. I think the multi-format points system in particular doesn't favour either team, so to win the Ashes you genuinely have to be the best team across all three formats.
"To be the first team, male or female, to play in a day-night Ashes Test match is going to be awesome. To have that opportunity is really exciting; you can only ever be part of history once."
The decision to elevate Haynes to the captaincy leaves Alex Blackwell to remain vice-captain, a move explained earlier this year during the World Cup as based upon the fact that Haynes' leadership style for Victoria is not dissimilar to that of Lanning for Australia. At the time, the national selector Shawn Flegler said that Haynes, a left-handed batsman, adapted well to the demands of captaincy.
"Rachael has a wealth of leadership experience, including successfully guiding Victoria to back-to-back national Twenty20 titles, and alongside Alex, will ensure the team is led to continue their current form," Flegler said. "We know that Rachael is capable of coming in and doing the job that is asked of her, as she demonstrated in New Zealand earlier this year, when she scored a half-century after a lengthy absence from the national side."
The series, which takes place in 50-over and Twenty20 components, as well as the Test match, starts on October 22, with Haynes hoping for plenty of vocal spectator support to mirror that enjoyed by England during a home World Cup. "Playing against England on their home turf during the World Cup, you could noticeably tell the crowd was on their side," she said, "so we're looking forward to turning the tables this time around and getting the crowd support on our side."