Standalone Women’s Ashes and dedicated domestic windows in new international schedule

A home test each summer, dedicated windows for the WBBL and two other national competitions, and a standalone Ashes series. Here are some of the key takeaways for Australian women from the new ICC Future Tours programme.

The ashes of women and men are kept separately

The Women’s Ashes has grown rapidly in recent years. Once played as random Tests, Cricket Australia and the ECB agreed to stage the first multi-format series consisting of a Test, three One-Day Internationals and three T20 Internationals in 2013 and in the same summer as the Men’s Ashes takes place.

The concept has proved popular with players and fans alike and the most recent Test, held at the Manuka Oval in January, was a thrilling contest that ended in an Australian victory late on the final day.

But there’s always felt that the women’s series is being overshadowed by the men’s series, which is getting a lot more attention.

In the new FTP, Australia and England women will play a multi-format Ashes series in January 2025, a summer when there will be no series between the men’s side.

It’s a sign that women’s football is gaining traction and is now seen as a game that can stand on its own two feet.

“There is an equal argument that women don’t do justice to men’s ashes in the same year as men because women’s have been growing so rapidly,” said Peter Roach, Cricket Australia’s head of cricket operations and scheduling. “So the separation of the two means we have two Ashes series over four years, doubling what we’ve had in the past.

“So we think it’s a really good thing. We think the multi-format series works. We really want to focus on making this January-February window a time when the multi-format series is coming to life as a marquee series to take us away from the men’s cricket hooter.

“We think it’s a great opportunity to put women’s football in the spotlight.”

Multi a winning bet but Australia is keen on another test partner

Australia hosted India and England for multi-format series last summer, giving women’s internationals a huge boost with two Tests and 14 games in total.

But the scenario will not be repeated in the upcoming FTP. Australia will host a series each summer from January to February, beginning with South Africa in summer 2023-2024.

The Ashes follows the following summer and India returns in 2025-2026.

The addition of South Africa to the list of countries playing Test cricket – they recently played a multi-format series in England – is encouraging, but Cricket Australia is still looking for another country ready to host a multi in 2026-2027 -Play format series.

To date, no other board has indicated a willingness to invest in women’s testing, including New Zealand, which last participated in a test in 2004. This will no doubt frustrate the New Zealand players who are dying to play in the longest form of the game.

For now, CA is leaving the door open.

“What we do know is that we have some time and women’s football is developing very quickly,” said Roach. “And we don’t know what 26-27 is going to be like, but we know there are teams that are making big strides and we know there are teams that are going through a development over their own.

“New Zealand is the obvious country that could change dramatically in the next three or four years I would suggest so we don’t know but we really hope that some of the depth in women’s cricket continues to increase rapidly.

“Although being the number one team in the world is great, it will be just as great if we have seven or eight or nine or ten great teams in the world. That’s where we want to reach women’s football and we’re sure that when that happens, the depth grows, countries will definitely look at the multi-format series and we hope that in 26-27 at least one of them will be in a is position where you can look at that.”

Household windows, including a WIPL

While the growing number of men’s T20 tournaments threatens to overwhelm international cricket, the women’s T20 tournament is still in its infancy and much easier to administer.

The WBBL will have its own window, meaning no women’s international cricket will be played at this time. The same clear air is accorded to the Women’s Hundred in England and the new FTP has also set aside a time slot for a Women’s IPL in March each year.

For men, only the IPL will be played during a blackout in international cricket, but the decision to clear three windows will give the best players more opportunity to gain experience.

Perhaps most importantly, as the majority of female gamers around the world are still only semi-professional, the move will allow a larger number of gamers to make more money.

It’s a scenario men’s football can only dream of.

“I think we have a really good opportunity in this area to get it right and keep it right,” Roach said. “We also have to recognize that we have to build up the women and the teams to play more regularly because it’s a big leap, what they’ve done in recent years, which is from not having a lot of play to having the opportunity to play more Participate in world events, some multi-format series.

“We don’t have to go from nothing to everything and just go the right way because I think it’s a really good lineup.”

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