28/02/2024

COVID clouds will continue to loom large over the Women's Ashes and Women's world cup. Image: cricket.com.au

Cricket Australia is bracing for players to miss games in the upcoming Women's Ashes and Women's World Cup as the COVID clouds continue to loom large over global sport

Australian and English players who contract COVID-19 the women’s Ashes won’t be allowed to travel to New Zealand for the upcoming World Cup with the team as COVID-19 continues to cloud sporting events globally.

Australia’s Ashes squad is set to be announced next week and players will be under pre-series biosecurity protocols before going into camp in Adelaide on January 17. The multi-format series against England, which was this week announced that it was being brought forward by a week to accommodate for a 10-day quarantine period in New Zealand ahead of the World Cup, which runs from March 4 to April 3.

Border closures and tightened COVID-19 measures across the country forced more domestic changes for The Women’s National Cricket League in Australia which has caused headaches for Australian Women’s National Selector and Head of Performance, Shawn Flegler who shared just how difficult the past 18 months have been as a selector.

“It’s been a big challenge, we had scheduled WNCL games prior to the ashes thinking that we would have some selection opportunities for players to put their hands up for selection that has been thrown out of the window to a degree but what we have learned over the last 18 months is been that we have to be adaptable and flexible,” Flegler said.

The start of the 2021-22 WNCL season was pushed back from September to December due to border closures and further changes were then necessary in December. With the ACT Meteors unable to travel to Melbourne following a COVID exposure within their squad, and WA unable to host SA with those rounds of matches postponed.

Fleger is confident that despite the lack of WNCL Cricket, The squad that will get announced will have the quality and the experience to retain the Women’s Ashes on home soil.

“I am confident that I have seen enough of our players over the last two years, we know the depth that we’ve got around Australian Cricket,” he said.

“I am still confident that we can put a couple of squads together with the ashes and Australia “A” squad”

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Australian players heading into the Women’s Ashes have played only sporadically at club and WNCL level since the conclusion of the India series and the WBBL. Fleger and the Australian Staff are going to give their players time to get comfortable in practice.

“Some players feel more comfortable having time in the middle other players are okay with having some hits in the nets and getting out there and performing,” He said.

“You have to be able to adapt and clear your mind and trust all the work you’ve done previously so that you can get out and perform.

“We will do our best to provide opportunities in those first couple of days of getting to Adelaide but there is no doubt we have to be prepared for the unexpected and work with what we have got”

With COVID -19 rampant around Australia with rising case numbers every day, Fleger is anticipating players to contract the virus but the Ashes squad picked next week will be larger than normal to handle the ever-changing situation.

“I think the way we are looking at it we have to be prepared for players that will miss games,” he said

“The strength we do have is we have got a number of players who could come in take the place of someone who does have COVID so we are in a fortunate position.

“We have to be really careful with our protocols and make sure that if someone does get COVID It doesn’t take down the whole group and touring squad too”

It’s a difficult situation for both the Women’s squad and due to the back-to-back tournaments, the teams are fighting tougher restrictions than the men’s Ashes squads.

“It really is a day to day proposition and our players and staff are aware of our protocols and some of the issues that might pop up and we are planning for all that but things change every day”

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