England Women skipper Charlotte Edwards admits she has been given a headache while trying to pick the squad for this winter’s Ashes series.
The team are heading to Australia for the first multi-format series Down Under, following the hugely successful summer in England.
That schedule has been retained for this winter, with the Test match opening the series before three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 games.
Edwards admitted that she has had to think long and hard about who to take after a number of youngsters stepped up for the successful West Indies tour that ended last month, and praised the health of the women’s game ahead of tomorrow’s squad announcement.
“We’ve got a lot of headaches in term of selection,” she told ecb.co.uk.
“I think in the last 12 months there have been a lot of girls who have put their hand up, especially younger players who have come into the side and performed fantastically well.
“It’s a headache we like but no doubt there’s going to be some disappointed girls come next week but hopefully we’ll select the best team that will hopefully retain the Ashes in Australia. We’re in a good place as a squad; it’s great to have strength in depth in all departments.”
“There are a lot of younger girls coming in and it’s great for our academy system for these girls to come in to our system and perform straight away.
“We’re very fortunate that we’ve got a great pathway in place. They’ve gone through a great system that we should all be very proud of.”
The squad that travelled to the West India was without the likes of Katherine Brunt, Anya Shrubsole, Laura Marsh, Heather Knight and Arran Brindle, yet England Women finished runners-up in the Twenty20 tri-series before beating West Indies 2-0 in the three-match one-day series.
Edwards was thrilled with the way the squad coped without players who had played key roles in the winter Ashes success.
“I think West Indies was probably one of my most favourite tours so far purely because I was put out of my comfort zone with a young squad,” she said.
“To win the one-day series was a great effort from a young team and some of their performances were outstanding. Kat Cross, Nat Sciver and Tasha Farrant have done fantastically well so that bodes well for the future and for us as well.”
Whoever does get the nod for selection will be going on the ultimate tour, according to Edwards.
“It’s the one place you want to tour,” she said. “And for the young girls who have never toured there I always tell them it’s the best place so hopefully we can back that up with some really good cricket.”
And the 33-year-old is determined to make it a successful winter, though she is under no illusions as to how hard the task will be.
She added: “It’s a tough place to go but it’s somewhere we don’t fear. We’ve been a successful team out there, having won World Cups and Ashes series before. We’re going out there with confidence having done well, but we also know that Australia in their back yard will be a tough proposition and we’re going to have to be at our best to win.
“I think it’s always nice to start with the Test and Perth is a place we’ve been before, we know the conditions so we just need to hit the ground running and start well.
“To go and do it back-to-back, it’s something very unique and to win up there would be another highlight.
“It’s definitely a proud moment to lead a side to Australia and hopefully we can bring the trophy back home.”