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    Women's Ashes preview: England ready to seize big moments

    Five important areas to consider for England ahead of the must-win first Women's Ashes IT20.

    England have three huge games left in the Women’s Ashes, starting with the first IT20 at North Sydney Oval on Friday (08.10 GMT start).

    Win this first match and it’s 6-6 in the multi-format points series, lose and the Ashes will stay in Australia.

    Selection

    England haven’t played a T20 game since July 2016, given the precedence of the 50-over ICC Women’s World Cup.

    That leaves an awful lot up in the air, selection-wise, and means there isn’t a lot to cling to in terms of form and recent history.

    It is at least more similar to ODI cricket than a Test match – the format that has more recently occupied England’s minds – so it’s back to coloured kit, powerplays, fielding circles and boundaries.

    Who will Mark Robinson pick?

    We know that it’s a used wicket – 400 overs on it in the last week or so – so there may be a temptation to go with more than two spinners, England’s normal quotient.

    That does leave the possibility of a slightly longer tail but might it be reasoned that England can justify that in the shortest form of the game?

    Every player in the squad will think they have a chance of earning a place in the side, while the two touring party members yet to make their bow – Danielle Hazell and Danni Wyatt – will be particularly keen to get a go.

    T20 is probably the strongest suit for both players so they’ll be in the mix, as will Jenny Gunn who sat out the Test but has more short-form nous than most cricketers around the world combined. 

    Opposition

    And it’s the same for Australia!

    Their last game was more recent – February 2017 – but this recent T20 form isn’t as stellar as you might think.

    While that may give England hope the same element of uncertainty applies, which makes predicting the outcome near to impossible.

    Something else that’s hard to predict is the Australian XI.

    They’ve released Tahlia McGrath, Nicole Bolton and the injured Lauren Cheatle, bringing in Delissa Kimmince, Molly Strano and Sarah Aley.

    All three played against England in their three-day pink-ball warm-up match and all three could feature.

    The Australian batting line-up could go a number of ways with the dangerous Alyssa Healy likely to return to the top of the order, a role she played in the ODIs.

    She could be crucial as the most explosive of the Australian line-up. 

    Pressure, what pressure?

    So far in this series Australia have probably won the majority of the “big” moments.

    That enabled them to win the first ODI, a close affair at Allan Border Field in Brisbane, and also served them well on day three of the Test match, when a good day for England could have swung the match decisively in their favour.

    It’s something that Heather Knight referenced ahead of the tour, arguing that with two evenly matched teams the “clutch” moments would be vital.

    It served England well in the World Cup and in the shortest form those big moments will be even more crucial.

    Highlights - England win the World Cup

    Anya Shrubsole takes six wickets as England win a thrilling final by nine runs

    There’s arguably a greater amount of pressure on England – for whom nothing but a win will do – but both sides will be breaking the game down into five-over spells.

    One big over either way and things could change – short form, big pressure.

    Test momentum?

    Momentum is a hotly contested topic in sport – somebody always wants it but nobody’s ever quite certain who’s got it – and it’s a similar story going into the first T20.

    England will have been as flat as anything as Ellyse Perry walked off following her behemothic 213, with a mountain to climb and a Test to save.

    The fact that they did it though – and comfortably – will have breathed new life into a team surely buoyed by the fact they’re still in the fight in a series that twice could have been all but beyond them.

    The hosts on the other hand – while maybe not expecting to win on the final day – would certainly have banked on taking more than two wickets.

    How much will that bowling effort have deflated them?

    Only time will tell, but neither side can afford to start off the pace in the rough and tumble of a T20 clash on Friday night. 

    Rain on our parade?

    It could all be academic.

    The forecast for Friday night isn’t optimistic.

    An abandoned game would leave a share of the points and the equation changing for England – for three victories, read two – but they’ll be very keen to get a full 20 overs in and a win under their belts.

    If the rain does come, but not enough of it to see the game abandoned, then the match may be shortened.

    Adapting to that may be a factor.

    A full scorecard will be available throughout Friday's match.

    Follow all of the team news and results during the final three T20 matches of the Women's Ashes in our dedicated England Women section

    England Ashes 2017 squad

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