Haynes & Blackwell ready for Ashes battle

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Universities Women’s Cricket Club (UWCC) representatives Alex Blackwell and Rachael Haynes arrived in England this week as part of the Australian women’s cricket team intent on defending the Ashes.

Blackwell (vice-captain) and Haynes left Australia knowing that although the Australian women’s team is ranked number one in all forms of the game, they have to be prepared for a tough fight on English soil in a new look Ashes series.

This year’s series, which starts on August 11, will feature one Test match, three ODIs and three T20s. The winners of the Test will be awarded six points, with two points awarded to the winners of each of the limited overs matches and T20 matches.

Before departing, Blackwell said “This is one of the most exciting series I have been selected for. With the new format, a combination of Test and shorter formats to decide the Ashes, we have a challenge ahead if us that we have never faced before. England are a class act, and to defeat them on their home soil will be a huge achievement.”

After being awarded player-of-the-match during her last appearance at Lord’s, Blackwell is looking forward to playing at the home of cricket again (Lords) but knows the hosts will pose a tough challenge.

“They will be hungry for a dominant series against us considering their disappointing World Cup in India. We will have our work cut out for us but we are well prepared and ready to go,” she said.

Club Secretary David Mifsud said “The dedication and professionalism of these two players, knows no bounds. Not only are they great players, but they are truly passionate about the game and whole heartedly support the club in every way they can.”

“Both girls attended the first night of our Winter Cricket Skills Academy the night before they flew to England, just so they could support an exciting initiative by our club and spend two hours coaching girls from all over Sydney, while promoting our club at the same time. It is this dedication to the game and selfless attitude that shows why the Australian women’s team is ranked number one in the world, and why they go into the series as favourites.”

“Unfortunately Channel 9, 10 or Fox don’t intend on broadcasting any of the women’s series in England, so it looks like we will be restricted to receiving match updates from social media. However I suppose if enough people contacted the networks, they might have a change of heart and we might just get to see the countries number one cricket team on our TV screens,” he said.

In other UWCC news, Alex Blackwell’s identical twin sister Kate Blackwell has announced that she will return to the Australian domestic women’s cricket competition in 2013-14 after three years away from the game.

The former Sydney University student, sporting Blue and founding player of Universities Women’s Cricket Club, Blackwell will be suiting up for the Western Australia Fury in the Women’s National Cricket League (WNCL). Blackwell has played four Tests, 41 One Day internationals and six T20’s for Australia.

Blackwell last played WNCL for NSW in 2010 and retired from all forms of cricket around the same time. However, after a few years away she was lured back for a one off club match for UWCC in February this year, where she took a sensational catch that left spectators in awe.

Blackwell has returned to the club as a guest coach at the inaugural UWCC Cricket Skills Academy, which sees a handful of teenage girls put through an intensive high performance coaching programme designed by Australian players. 

In 2012-13 UWCC honoured Blackwell for her outstanding achievements at all levels of the game with the re-naming of the Clubs Brewer Shield Player of the Year trophy to the Kate Blackwell Trophy, which is awarded to the club’s best up and coming U/17’s player for the season.

The club hopes to see Blackwell playing many more games for them this season in between her WNCL duties in Western Australian and work commitments in Sydney.