The series at Gardens Oval contains a Twenty20 international and five-match Rose Bowl Series and will be the first time the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars have played in Darwin.
After arriving on Sunday, the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars have spent their time acclimatising to the Darwin winter, with today’s centre wicket hit-out the last chance for new coach Lisa Keightley to make final adjustments before tomorrow’s opening Twenty20 international.
“Tomorrow will only be our third Twenty20 international so we are still finding our way in this format of the game. The match will enable us to set a platform leading into the 50-over games,” Keightley said.
“We’ll approach the match with the intention of having some time in the middle, enjoying the game and seeing what skills we can produce at this time of the year.
“Overall, I’m really keen to walk away from this series knowing where all the girls are at.
“We’ve obviously lost Cathryn Fitzpatrick, so we’re looking for a new opening bowler who will spearhead our innings and with the bat, we’ll be trying to get some new combinations there as well and establish some players in different positions.”
While Australia is confident and injury-free, New Zealand’s chances have been dealt a huge blow with fast bowler Louise Milliken ruled out of the series after suffering a knee injury at training yesterday.
The 23-year-old was injured while bowling in a practice match against a Northern Territory junior team and will depart for New Zealand tonight where she will have a MRI scan to determine the extent of the damage.
Milliken will be replaced by Sarah Burke in the New Zealand squad. Burke will join the White Ferns in Darwin tomorrow afternoon.
Based on previous results, Australia enters the Top End Series as strong favourites. Last year’s corresponding Twenty20 international resulted in a thrilling ‘bowl-off’ victory for the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars, but the Rose Bowl Series was not as close.
Australia’s 5-0 victory in Brisbane was the first sweep in a series of more than three matches. What made it more impressive was they won without the services of captain Karen Rolton for the majority of the series. However the reigning ICC Women’s Player of the Year is fit and ready to lead the world champions in Darwin.
Australia’s team for the Twenty20- international will be announced tomorrow morning.
Live scoring for all matches will be available on Cricket Australia’s website, www.cricket.com.au.
Top End Series Schedule
Thursday 19 July, Australia v New Zealand, 2.45pm-5.30pm
Rose Bowl Series
Saturday 21 July, Australia v New Zealand, 10.00am-5.05pm
Sunday 22 July, Australia v New Zealand, 10.00am-5.05pm
Wednesday 25 July, Australia v New Zealand, 10.00am-5.05pm
Saturday 28 July, Australia v New Zealand, 10.00am-5.05pm
Sunday 29 July, Australia v New Zealand, 10.00am-5.05pm
photos Janos Schmidt