Australia’s women could have to wait up to four years to play another home Test with the thrilling Ashes finish no silver bullet for more certainty on red-ball cricket.
Sunday’s final hour in Canberra capped arguably the best women’s Test played, with all four possible results still on the table into the last over as England chased 257 for victory in 48 overs and finished nine wickets down.
An average of more than 430,000 viewers tuned in for the final session, peaking at 558,000 to make it the most-watched day of women’s Test cricket in history, with streaming numbers not yet included.
The match prompted widespread calls for more women’s Tests, but as things stand not one is locked into the ICC’s calendar for future matches.
England will host South Africa this winter, where there is some hope a multi-format series similar to the Ashes could be played to include a Test.
No future tours released for women
For Australia, the wait will likely be longer.
No future tours program has been released for women, but Pakistan and West Indies are the next teams due to tour following the current cycle after last visiting in 2014-15.
Neither of those nations have played a Test since 2004, and would be extremely unlikely to do so again soon.
New Zealand and South Africa could be options when they next tour, but both would again be no certainty to feature in a Test.
Australia will play an away Test during the 2023 Ashes, but it means their next home one may not be until India or England next return as late as 2025-26.
Coach Matthew Mott conceded that the wait could indeed be for those teams to return, after a Canberra fixture featuring the fastest scoring in women’s Test history and a wicket fall every nine overs on average.
“It was a great advertisement for the women’s cricket, and particularly Test match cricket,” Mott said.
“I still think that the Test matches are really good in this (multi-format) context, around the top teams playing it.
“(At the moment) I think that that will only come to the fore when we’re playing India and England every couple of years.
“And then obviously South Africa and New Zealand (are options for a multi-format series, depending on) whether they have an appetite for it as well.”
Cricket Australia on board
Cricket Australia said on Monday it was still working through the future schedule, but the organisation has largely supported more women’s Tests under chief executive Nick Hockley.
“Cricket Australia is supportive of playing as much Test cricket as is practical,” a spokesperson said.
“(That’s) evidenced by hosting Test matches versus both India and England as part of multi-format series this season, while supporting the global growth of the women’s game.”
Meanwhile Mott confirmed seamer Megan Schutt would return for the upcoming three ODIs against England after being sat out of the Test, with Australia needing just one win to retain the Ashes.