Women's Ashes Of The Future: Would A Tweaked Format Make It An Even Better Duel?

England won more matches, but drew the series 8-8 and Australia retained the Ashes
13:01, 19 Jul 2023

Out of the seven matches played in this year’s Women’s Ashes, England won four of them. Yet it was Australia who retained the Ashes after the scores finished level at 8-8, with narrow wins at Edgbaston and the Rose Bowl enough to get them over the line. 

However, for some it feels slightly strange that the more successful team over the course of the past month have ended on the losing side. Of course, it all comes down to the scoring system in which two points are awarded to the winner of the shorter-format games, and four points are given to the winner of the sole Test match. 

With interest growing in women’s cricket and over 63,000 watching the Ashes in person this year, it is hoped that we will see more than one Test match in upcoming series. Ideally, we would move to a five-match Test series to mirror the men, and then the idea of complex scoring would become obsolete. 


But that feels like it is still a decade or so away. The short-term progress we would like to see is an additional one or two Test matches added for the next series Down Under, and the effect that might have on attendances would be instructive. From what we saw on home soil, the interest is higher than ever before. Not only did these two teams produce one of the best female Ashes series we have seen in some time, but the crowd embraced the sport being played out in front of them. 

The players are becoming household names, with Sophie Ecclestone in particular underlining her status among the world's best during this series, while the competitiveness also made for a far more interesting contest. England may not have won the Ashes, but they did repeat the scoreline of 2017-18 having been hammered in the two series in the interim period. But was 8-8 a fair result, or should things have been done differently?


Well, given this should and could be a Test series, it is correct that more weight is given to the Test match. You could even argue that it should be worth more than double the one-day games, given five days of effort goes into each Test. There may also be a case for giving one point apiece to each of the ODI or T20 matches, and making every Test match worth three points, which would reduce the likelihood of a drawn series. 

Had that been the case this year, England would have lost the series 5-4. The scoring could be tweaked to improve the end product, but what is perhaps even more important is the scheduling of the matches. Given Australia won the four-point Test match that was played first, and followed it up with a T20 win, England needed to deliver perfection after just two defeats.

They almost achieved a remarkable comeback and can be proud of how they performed after that point, but the intrigue in the series would have been far higher had the Test match been saved until last. Added to that, rather than having a drawn series, which is slightly hollow for all involved, if the same scoring format is maintained and the Ashes ends in a draw, the winners should be the team which won the Test match. After all, it is meant to be a Test cricket series.

Imagine if the format was re-jigged in this way, and the Test match was saved until last. Even if England were 8-4 down, they would still have a chance at winning the Ashes. Who could say no to a packed stadium cheering the home side on as they thrilled us over a crucial five-day Test match? It’s a dream scenario, but one that could be feasible with just a couple of tweaks. 

The number of Test matches in the women’s Ashes is only going to increase and that should in theory provide a more entertaining spectacle. But if the Ashes continues to be a white ball/red ball crossover event, the organisers must get the scoring, and the schedule, spot on. Saving the Test match until last would be a positive move.

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