The resumption of women’s Test matches between Australia and India after a 15-year absence could pave the way for a wider global conversation about women’s scheduling, as well as a call for a perpetual trophy to honour the two countries’ close historical relationship.
Mel Jones, now a director of Cricket Australia and a newly elected member of the ICC’s Women’s Cricket Committee, was pleased to learn on Thursday that the first Test between Australia and India since 2006 would be held at the WACA Ground in Perth beginning September 30.
Given the paucity of the long-form game of women’s programming over the past decades, Jones believes that the completion of a women’s international calendar for the coming summer that involves two Tests (against India and England) is of equal or greater importance.
Just 32 Test matches have been played around the world since the most recent three-Test Ashes series between Australia and England in the UK in 1998, with superpower outfit New Zealand’s most recent Test being on their 2004 tour of England.
Because of the lack of four-day fixturing (as women’s Tests always are), players like Australia’s Alyssa Healy have stated that she never expected to have a two-Test summer during her playing career, and Jones, despite being part of CA’s preparation, has expressed a similar sentiment.
“I was instrumental in it all, and I’m really pinching myself,” Jones said of the schedule, which sees Australia’s women’s team play two Tests, as well as six One-Day Internationals and six Twenty-20 Internationals, against India and England, for the first time since 2002-03.
“For so many years, every woman cricketer, from every country, has been talking about playing more Test matches.
“The fact that players including (White Ferns’ stars) Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates have never played one, and we have this wonderful Ashes format that allows us to play one every two years, has the Kiwis salivating.
“It reinvigorates your expectations and aspirations to suddenly see two in the format next year.
“I know there was a lot of emphasis on the value of T20 cricket for marketing the women’s game a few years back, but the return on that investment now helps us to re-think what the game should be.”
“It will be fantastic to get Sanath Ragaswamy and Marg Jennings, as well as all the other players from the first Test in Perth, back into the spotlight.
“It’s wonderful to have anything like the Border-Gavaskar, but that’s the perspective of men on what happened in the past.
“So for the women’s game, we can just do things our way, and maybe we can come up with something a little different.”