Lauren Filer’s ability to “bang the ball in” has earned the pace bowler an unexpected place in Heather Knight’s side for Thursday’s Ashes Test. The England captain is seeking an aggressive attack that can take all Australia’s wickets to secure a first result in a women’s Test since 2015.
“Myself and Jon [Lewis, the coach] are on the same page about how we want the team to play,” Knight said. “When I started out playing Test cricket I felt I had to go super-defensive, it was all about survival. I want all the girls to have in their minds how they’re going to take the game forward with the ball or with the bat.
“She [Filer] is one of the quickest in the country and she gets bounce. She can move the ball both ways and she can bang the ball in. We need a team that’s going to take 20 wickets.”
Danni Wyatt, after representing England in 245 white-ball matches over 13 years, will at last be handed a Test cap when the match starts. “She’s really chuffed,” Knight said.
“Probably at one point she felt like she was never going to get a Test cap, but we’ve picked her because we want her to play exactly how she does in the middle-order in ODI cricket. She’s one of the best players and the best attackers of spin in the world game.”
Alice Capsey, who had been widely expected to make her Test debut, was released from the squad on Tuesday and will feature in the concurrent T20 series between England A and Australia A.
Australia have not yet confirmed their XI but are also expected to field two debutants: the former Ireland all-rounder Kim Garth and the 20‑year‑old batter Phoebe Litchfield. With the captain, Meg Lanning, sitting out the series because of unspecified medical reasons, and her stand-in, Alyssa Healy, having signalled her desire to drop down to the No 5 spot, Litchfield is likely to open the batting.
The women’s Ashes is played for points in all three formats with the Test match worth four points – compared with two for the three one-day internationals and three Twenty20s. A win at Trent Bridge will be the key to success in the series.
Australia are firm favourites: they have held the Ashes since 2015, are holders of the 50-over and 20-over world titles, and are fresh from successfully defending the latter in South Africa in February. Given the infrequency of women’s Tests, though, this is something of a wildcard. Of the two sides, it is England who have more recent experience of the format, having faced South Africa at Taunton last season.
Australia’s last Test was the breathtaking Ashes encounter at Canberra in January 2022. England came within 12 runs of chasing down their 257-run target before clinging on for the draw with one wicket to spare.
“The last innings at Canberra was exactly how I want us to play this Test match,” Knight said. “We went out there to try to win, be really aggressive. We’ve learned a hell of a lot from that match, when the heat was on.”
There is another complicating factor: this will be the second women’s Test to be played over five days (the previous one took place between the same opponents at Sydney in February 1992). That makes it a tough one to approach tactically for both teams, who are used to having to manufacture a result within a more limited time-frame.
Five days means more time to bat. That bodes well for Ellyse Perry, who hit a double-century in the 2017 Sydney Ashes Test and has a Test average of 75, as well as for Knight. After a tricky few months with the bat – her last international half-century was in July 2022 – she will take comfort in her unbeaten 168 in the first innings of the Canberra Test.
However the cricket unfolds, it is likely to be a memorable five days. The record attendance for a women’s Test in England is 15,000 for the game Australia at the Oval in 1951. With 14,500 tickets sold for Trent Bridge, there is every chance that record is about to be broken.