The day after Alex Blackwell's international debut in 2003, Belgium became the second country to legalise same-sex marriage. A fortnight after her 250th at Coffs Harbour on Sunday, Australia should finally begin the process to become the 24th.

There are many ways to illustrate the longevity of a career that has spanned 5387 days, but marriage equality seems most fitting given Blackwell's persuasive work to convince Australian voters.

In both the current public campaign and women's cricket as a whole, the terrain has changed strikingly since Blackwell made her bow at age 19. Now, she is Australia's most-capped female player; on Sunday, the latest in a string of milestones.

Professionalism has been the biggest transformation. When the national vice-captain started her journey, pay for women cricketers was not part of the conversation. Major tournament preparation would consist of a training camp squeezed into a long weekend, if they were lucky. "Everything was jammed together and you left in a world of hurt," she had recalled earlier in the year.

Then back to the university Blackwell would go, to continue her medical studies, then into a full-time career in genetics. "I never thought it would be professional for me," she said of the game. "I always had to equally think about my academic life and the career I wanted to pursue to earn an income. You were stretched pretty thin."

It is a familiar story for women athletes worldwide. But in Blackwell's case, full-time cricket was a welcome arrival a dozen years later. While there are many commercial indicators of a game on the rise, Blackwell's batting embodies it better than any.

From a nuggety get-out-of-strife type, she is now Australia's most versatile player, something she attributes to recalibrating her game for T20. She excelled in the Women's Big Bash league, leading Sydney Thunder to the inaugural title. That broader set of skills is now evident every time she sets up at the crease.

"One of the best things Al's been able to do is really adapt her game," Australian captain Rachael Haynes said in toasting her deputy's "outstanding" career. "You've always got to look to evolve. If you look at players over time who are able to do that, they're generally the ones who have had the longer careers and the most success."

Blackwell is now equally comfortable with the straight bat as she is lapping or reversing or walloping. Her 56-ball 90 nearly saved the day in the World Cup semi-finals this July. It's a game methodically curated for all seasons; a game that got Australia over the line in the opening match of this Ashes too, with an unbeaten 67.

This narrative also applies to Haynes, previously known for compact accumulation rather than the plundering she subjected England to in the second Ashes ODI. "There were some good moments in there the other day," she said modestly of her 56-ball 89. "And I've still got more to give as a player."

Her task in the second Coffs Harbour contest - the last ODI of the multi-format series - is to avoid a Big Banana peel that would cede momentum to England ahead of the standalone Test Match. Haynes knows this is a crucial opportunity.

"Don't be satisfied," was her message to her players. "This match is a really important game, we'll be looking to really assert [ourselves]. That's the really big thing. The moment you get comfortable and relaxed in what you're achieving, perhaps, it leaves the door open."

Haynes will have the services of the dynamic 20-year-old all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner, who is likely to return after concussion had kept her out of Thursday's 75-run victory. "You saw a glimpse of what she's capable of, so it's exciting that she'll come back in," the captain said. Legspinner Kristen Beams will likely make way.

Thursday's toss generated scrutiny, after Heather Knight gave Australia first use of friendly batting conditions. England coach Mark Robinson later elaborated on his captain's decision to ESPNcricinfo.

"Had that rain come an hour later and we looked at a shortened target, Duckworth-Lewis can make things look very, very simple," he said. "Had we elected to bat first and it rained and Australia had an easy target you would be criticised with everyone knowing the forecast. As it happened, the rain came at the worst time. It's a lot more clear-cut tomorrow."

Knight recognised that bouncing back from four points down is "potentially" the biggest test of her time in charge. "But, it is still very much a contest. There is still a hell of a lot of cricket to be played. We have got to wrestle back that momentum. But it is important that we move on from what has happened and don't feel sorry for ourselves."

Robinson, however, wasn't prepared to declare it a must-win game. "I don't look it like that. It puts too much emphasis and can become too big and that can actually start to suffocate you."

"We've given the girls all the space they needed yesterday then had all the chats we needed today," he said of the mood in the camp. "What you have got to do is keep it simple as you can. We're not trying to build anything up too much."

With the bat, only bowler Katherine Brunt has made it to a half-century so far in the two games, while both she and her fellow opening seamer Anya Shrubsole were wicketless and expensive in their last start. Knight, however, is backing her quick bowlers, whom she assessed as bowling "brilliantly" early before Australia's aggression took over.

Sophie Ecclestone, the 18-year-old left-arm spinner endorsed by Knight and Robinson, will play again after her Ashes debut on Thursday,. There is no sign of panic yet, as both the captain and the coach hinted they would go in unchanged. World Champions at home, this is a prized opportunity for England to show what they are made of away.