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Beth Mooney: Pink-ball Test poses a different challenge to what we're used to

Left-hander already training with a pink-ball under lights in Queensland while team-mates and India players complete hard quarantine

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Beth Mooney is readying herself for the "foreign" challenge of facing the pink-ball in the day-night Test against India next month but is confident the basics of the game will hold her in good stead despite the rarity of the occasion.
The Test will now be held at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast after India's entire tour was moved to Queensland due to Covid-19. For Mooney, that brings the benefit of being one of the few players in the Australia squad who doesn't need to quarantine ahead of the series while the Queensland winter climate has also aided her preparation with the ability to train under lights.
Mooney's Test debut came in the 2017 day-night Ashes Test at North Sydney Oval but it will be more than two years since Australia have played the format.
"I shouldn't rub it in too much to the southern states but being from Queensland, I've been out in the sunshine and fortunately been able to train at the new facility at Norths under lights and had an opportunity to face the pink ball," Mooney said. "The Test match is a day-night Test and that poses a different challenge to one that we're normally used to.
"So I've had a couple of opportunities under the lights to face the pink ball and been really tested. It's something pretty foreign to us as a group and it's really important that we try and get as much of that sort of format into our game as well.
"But at the end of the day it's still about a bat and a ball and a cricket match so hopefully the skills that we've developed over a long period of time in T20 and one-day cricket really help transfer that into the Test."
Mooney is also confident that the Metricon Stadium surface will be able to replicate the pace and bounce that had been hoped for at the WACA, which provided conditions for an enthralling contest during the 2014 Ashes.
"The WACA [would have] offered a little bit of assistance for our young quicks in Tayla, Darcie, Pez, Maitlan Brown," Mooney said. "We're really lucky that Metricon are putting up the drop-in wickets now for us to get prepped for that Test. There hasn't been any cricket played on that wicket so I expect it to be a really great four days and really competitive Test cricket will be seen on that wicket, and it's a great outfield as well.
"From all reports with the groundies [ground staff], and speaking to people that have played on the wicket, I think we're playing on it at the right time of the year and hopefully we can get a big crowd out to watch hopefully a spectacle of women's Test cricket."
While two multi-format series in a season - the Ashes will follow in January and February - provide plenty for Australia to focus on, the big target at the end of the summer is the ODI World Cup in New Zealand with the semi-final exit in 2017 a major motivation for the side over the last four years. Though they have played six matches, all against New Zealand, over the last 12 months and set a new world record which currently stands at 24 consecutive victories, this home season is the final push to get World Cup plans firmed up.
"This is a real reset for us as the Australian women's team," Mooney said. "Obviously the end goal is the World Cup next year with, we've got an Ashes series and a WBBL between that, but our priority now is making sure we get the right make-up of our team in the next little bit, get the right people firing at the right time.
"We're really grateful that India are willing to come out here and tour and leading into a World Cup it's important that we get up and running and back together as a group."
The Australia squad will come together as a whole on September 13 when the players from Victoria and New South Wales complete their hard quarantine - along with the entire India group - leaving a week of preparation which is likely to include a couple of practice matches before the ODI series begins on September 21 in Mackay.
"I think it's really important for us and obviously the Indian team that there's enough lead-in time to that first game," she said. "Especially for us, we haven't played cricket together or training together since that series in New Zealand. So that week lead into the first game will be really important for us to make sure we get everything right and get everyone going at the right time."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo