Ellyse Perry – While Meg Lanning is out injured, Ellyse Perry takes up the mantle of “best batsman in the world”. Though both have outstanding ODI averages, they achieve them in very different ways. Lanning naturally scores at a rate that outstrips virtually all other top order players, while Perry is more measured but exceptionally difficult to dismiss.
Since cementing her place in the Australian top 5 at the start of 2014, Perry has faced more balls per dismissal (104.95) than any other player and averages an incredible 83.23. In home ODIs during that period, she has made 12 half-centuries in 14 innings, amassing 902 runs at an even more eye-popping 112.75. Perry’s career average of 95.00 in successful ODI chases also points to her cool head under pressure. Her strong technique and exceptional temperament make Perry the favourite to bring up a century in the Ashes Test.
In Lanning’s absence, Perry may be required to score at a higher rate than she ordinarily does for Australia. While better known for clockwork consistency rather than lightning scoring, she has the ability to dramatically go up the gears when needed. In the Kia Super League for example, Perry has the highest strike rate (224.56) of any batsman to have faced over 10 balls during the death overs, hitting boundaries at a rate of one every 2.59 balls faced during that period of the innings.
Apart from her batting, Perry has taken more ODI wickets in Australia (74) than any other bowler. 2nd place Lisa Sthalekar has 61, no current international has more than 27. Three more will give Perry the T20I record as well.
In Test cricket, Perry has the 7th best bowling average (16.11) of all time (min. 1000 balls bowled), making her the highest ranked current player on the list.
Tammy Beaumont – The epitome of Mark Robinson’s revitalised England set-up, Tammy Beaumont has gone from a fringe player to arguably the most important member of the England batting line up.
Her 342 runs against Pakistan in 2016 were the most ever scored in a three match ODI series. 410 runs at the 2017 World Cup deservedly earned her Player of the Tournament, and equalled the late Jan Brittin’s England record for runs at a single tournament. Brittin scored 410 when England last hosted the World Cup in 1993.
During the World Cup, Beaumont also brought up her 1,000th ODI run. 32 innings batted made her the 4th fastest Englishwoman to reach the mark, but her career turnaround is best exemplified by the fact that she had scored just 207 runs in 16 innings when Robinson became coach.
Beaumont has the most centuries (3) of any ODI opener since the 2015 Ashes. In T20I cricket, Beaumont and Jenny Gunn are both just one shot behind Charlotte Edwards’ England record of 10 T20I career sixes. Edwards played 93 T20I innings, compared with Gunn’s 62 and Beaumont’s 30. Beaumont had just one six from 19 T20I innings (not to mention a batting average of 8.31) at the start of 2016.
Alex Blackwell – Only Meg Lanning has scored more ODI centuries in Australia (4) than Blackwell (3). Blackwell made half-centuries in all three ODIs during the 2013/14 Ashes and averages 57.87 in home ODIs against England.
Blackwell, who debuted in 2003, has shown a remarkable ability to adapt to and exceed the increasing ODI run rate of recent years. For the first half of her career (61 innings from 2003-2009), her SR was a modest 56.48. During this period, the average ODI run rate was 3.61 RPO, equivalent to a SR of 60.17 (Cricinfo’s statsguru doesn’t have full ODI balls faced data for individual players during this era so getting an accurate average batting SR isn’t possible. The overall ODI run rate will have to suffice as a point of comparison).
2010 was the first time Blackwell completed a calendar year with a SR over 70, and she’s become ever more expansive since then, particularly after the launch of the WBBL in 2015.
Since the 2015 Ashes, the ODI run rate has been 4.33 RPO and the average batting SR is 67.62. Blackwell’s ODI SR for this period is 91.43. Blackwell’s first significant score for Australia was 53 (95) back in 2005. Her most recent innings, almost the reverse – 90* (56) at the 2017 World Cup.
Her 907 combined runs in the WBBL and KSL make Blackwell the 7th highest scoring player in those professional domestic T20 leagues. Her versatility is such that she also holds distinction in the longest format, Blackwell (4) and Jess Jonassen (2) are the only players in either Ashes squad to have made more than one 50+ Test score.
Blackwell is also set to achieve numerous career landmarks during the Ashes series:
(deep breath) By playing in this series, Blackwell will equal Charlotte Edwards’ record of appearing in nine Ashes series. The first ODI will be Blackwell’s 142nd for Australia, which will break Karen Rolton’s Australian ODI appearance record. Blackwell will then equal Rolton’s Australian record of 11 Ashes Test caps, when she plays in the day/night Test at North Sydney Oval.
That match is set to be Blackwell’s 4th of the series, which would take her past Charlotte Edwards’ record for most Ashes match appearances (31). Finally, the first T20I will be Blackwell’s 96th T20I cap. She and England’s Jenny Gunn both currently share the T20I career appearance record of 95, with Charlotte Edwards (who else?).
Her 80 (33) vs Pakistan at Worcester in 2016 holds the record for the highest SR (242.42) for an ODI innings of 25+ balls. That innings contained six sixes, the most ever hit in an ODI innings by an Englishwoman. Unsurprisingly, Sciver also holds the England record for ODI career sixes (15).
Big hitting, combined with excellent running between the wickets means Sciver maintains an exceptional strike rate, and so can achieve previously unheard of batting feats for a middle order ODI batsman. Her 129 vs New Zealand during the World Cup is the highest score ever by an ODI #5. She and India’s Harmanpreet Kaur are the only players to have made more than one ODI century batting at #4 or lower.
England have played so little T20I cricket (just 3 matches) since their disappointing 2016 World T20 campaign, and Sciver has been so extraordinary in ODIs in the intervening period (864 runs at 50.82 with a SR of 110.20), that her ODI career strike rate (103.78) is now higher than her T20I strike rate (96.31).
Sciver’s presence in the lineup also provides England with enormous balance as a bowling side. With two international standard bowlers batting in the top 5 (Sciver and captain Heather Knight), England take the field in ODIs with seven bowling options. A stark contrast to Australia, who have so struggled to fill their fifty overs they’ve resorted to using Elyse Villani and even Nicole Bolton as bowlers in recent times.
During the 2017 World Cup, Sciver became the first woman to bring up 1,000 ODI runs from fewer than 1,000 deliveries. Her 943 balls faced broke Lanning’s record of 1,011.
Ashleigh Gardner – 20 year old Ashleigh Gardner is perhaps the only current player who has the potential to challenge Sciver’s 1,000 run record. Her current international stats may not suggest it, but Gardner is one of the most exciting batters in world cricket. A clean-hitting all-rounder with devastating power, she was the 5th highest runscorer in WBBL02 (414 runs) and hit the joint most sixes (13) that season.
Gardner will probably bat in the middle order in the T20Is but has yet to be given much responsibility with the bat in ODIs. Since the 2015 Ashes, Australia have only lost 6 or more wickets in 14 of their 26 ODI innings. Gardner, who debuted earlier this year, has never batted higher than #8 in ODIs so has had few opportunities. She has so far batted just five times in her ten ODI appearances.
A place or two higher in the order would make better use of Gardner’s talents and might get Australia close to 300, a total they haven’t reached in ODIs since 2012.
While she hasn’t had much of a look-in with the bat, Gardner has bowled 94 overs of tidy offspin in ODIs. Among Australians to have bowled in more than one ODI this year, she has the best economy rate (4.27 RPO).
Katherine Brunt – Ten wickets during this Ashes series, to add to the 44 she has already, would make Katherine Brunt the highest wicket taker in Ashes history.
Brunt’s 38 Test career wickets put her 5th on England’s all-time list and she is one of just four members of England’s Ashes squad with a Test fifty to her name.
In a tournament that smashed batting records, Brunt was among the most economical bowlers at the 2017 World Cup (3.77 RPO), and is the 3rd most economical ODI bowler (3.45 RPO) since the 2015 Ashes (100+ overs bowled).
Since the inauguration of professional T20 leagues in 2015, Brunt has also become an increasingly effective middle-lower order batter.
At the 2017 World Cup she made her ODI career high score (45* against Australia) as she and Jenny Gunn combined for the highest 7th wicket partnership at a World Cup (85 runs). In the final against India, Brunt’s vital 34 run contribution was the 2nd highest score of her career.
While England haven’t played enough T20Is recently to prove it, in the shortest format Brunt must now be considered a genuine all-rounder.
Over the course of two Kia Super League seasons, Brunt is the 9th highest run scorer, has the 2nd highest batting SR (140.40, the tournament average is 102.15) and has bowled the 2nd highest percentage of dot balls (60.2%). The only players with more KSL runs than Brunt are top order international batsmen, several of whom will feature in the Ashes.
With 205 runs at a SR of 132.51 and 10 wickets, Brunt was also a key member of the Perth Scorchers squad that reached the final of WBBL02.