Jon Lewis says England are ready for ‘great challenge’ of regaining Ashes

Jon Lewis says England are ready for ‘great challenge’ of regaining Ashes

Jon Lewis believes his England squad are ready for the “great challenge” of trying to win back the Women’s Ashes and revealed he has enlisted the help of an Australian to boost their cause.

Lewis selected a 15-player group for next week’s Test with Australia at Trent Bridge on Monday, with uncapped Western Storm duo Lauren Filer and Danielle Gibson included alongside white-ball international Alice Capsey, who is yet to play Test cricket.

England have not won the multi-format series since 2014, but have gathered information about the current 50-over and T20 world champions from Matthew Mott.

Queensland-born Mott, now England men’s white-ball coach, spent seven years in charge of Australia Women before leaving his role last year.

Lewis said: “I had a really good conversation with Matthew. We talked actually before the World Cup (in February) at quite a length about the Australian team.

“Unfortunately we didn’t get to play them at the World Cup but still got a lot of information from that conversation. He was really open with me about how to play against the Australians, their strengths and them as people.

“Obviously I have my own insight now in terms of the WPL experience. Alyssa (Healy) was the captain of UP Warriorz – where I was coaching – and Tahlia McGrath and Grace Harris were there as well, so I have a good insight into how they go about their business.

“Yeah, Matthew was really helpful and shared some good information.”

Australia have won the past two Ashes series by a 12-4 score and while aware of the size of the task at hand, Lewis has belief in his youthful squad.

England v Afghanistan – T20 World Cup – Optus Stadium
Matthew Mott, pictured, has helped Jon Lewis (PA)

An aggressive style of cricket has been adopted since Lewis took over in November and it will be replicated again this summer in front of record crowds with more than 11,000 spectators set to attend the five-day Test.

Before the series opener on June 22, England face Australia A in a three-day warm-up fixture at Derbyshire on Thursday while England A take on Australia in Leicestershire, which will act as vital preparation considering the lack of red-ball opportunities in the women’s game.

“We will have to play our best cricket. We are very aware of the quality of the Australian side, we are very aware they are a formidable opponent and we are really keen to try and disrupt the flow of their game by playing the game the way we want to play it,” Lewis explained.

“If we can dictate the play more often than not, I think we have our best chance of beating the Australians but we’re incredibly aware of the challenge that lies ahead of us because they’ve been a very dominant team for a long period of time.

“I am really pleased with where the players are at with the preparation time we’ve had. I think they are in a really good head space, they are really clear about how we want to play and they are ready for the challenge ahead.

“Obviously the challenge is a great challenge and what will play out, will play out but in terms of whether they are ready to take on the Australians this week and next week? Yeah I feel they are in a good space.

“I think it is a huge summer for women’s sport in England. Last year it was with the Lionesses winning the Euros and there was a massive following for them.

“This summer it is Ashes and the Women’s Ashes in particular for us. As much as we can, we encourage people especially up in Nottingham to come through the gate and watch what will hopefully be some really entertaining cricket.”

Lewis admitted his final XI for next week’s Test is not decided and placed importance on this week’s warm-up fixtures with Danni Wyatt set to feature for England A to improve her chances of a Test debut while uncapped duo Filer and Gibson will get the opportunity to impress against Australia A.

Both have impressed for Western Storm this season, Gibson hitting two recent half-centuries in the Charlotte Edwards Cup and Filer claiming eight wickets in four Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy matches in 2023.

Lewis added: “Dani for me is one of the in-form cricketers in the country, she is a pretty dynamic player and gives us flexibility in terms of selection.

“Then Lauren Filer is a point of difference bowler, someone that bowls with more pace than probably anyone in the country.

“I’m really excited about both those cricketers.”