KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
Founded in 1787, Marylebone Cricket Club is the most active and famous cricket club in the world and owner of Lord's Cricket Ground - the Home of Cricket.
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England Women launch their Ashes defence in Sydney on Saturday 22 January with three MCC Young Cricketers (YCs) vying for a place in the side.
YCs Fran Wilson, Danielle Wyatt and Heather Knight played their part in England’s thumping 4-1 Twenty20 series victory and 2-1 One Day International defeat on the tour so far.
The trio now have their sights firmly set on gaining a place in the final XI for the one-off Test.
MCC Women’s Coach Alan Duncan is looking forward to seeing the products of the YC system in action and defending the Urn.
He said: "It’s a fantastic opportunity for the girls to play Test cricket. They don’t get many chances to play the longer form of the game so it’s a good examination of their technique and temperament.
"It’s a different level. There is more pressure on the girls not to make mistakes and they will have to apply themselves well.
"But, under the leadership of Charlotte Edwards, they will be focussed and have a good chance of winning and retaining the Ashes."
Wyatt (19) and Knight (20) have been ever present for the eight limited overs fixtures in Australia and opened the batting together in all three ODIs.
Knight impressed with a patient 72 in an otherwise disappointing nine wicket defeat in the second ODI - her first international half century.
She also made 33, and put on 47 for the first wicket with Wyatt, to help set-up England’s seven wicket win in the third ODI match. Wyatt added a quick 30.
Wyatt's off breaks have also proved a useful asset for captain Charlotte Edwards as the spinner has chipped in with three wickets in the T20 series.
Duncan praised their performances so far but warned England must replicate their T20 form and not their ODI efforts to stand a chance in the Test match.
He added: "Heather stepped up and did really well and took the opportunity to open in the ODIs.
"Hopefully she, Danielle and Fran will get another chance to go out and show what they’re capable of in the Test.
"England need to make sure they perform better than they did in the ODIs though, because they will be disappointed with that.
"The T20s have, hopefully, given them some good momentum though - let's hope so."
Rare Test chance
England may also call on the services of former YCs; wicket-keeper Lauren Griffiths and the experienced Caroline Atkins, for the four day Test.
Since regaining the Urn in a two match home series in 2005, England have played just five Tests.
They defeated Australia by five wickets on their last trip Down Under in 2008 and drew at home 18 months later to keep their hands on the Ashes.
The advent of T20 cricket has provided a new focus for the women’s game with England’s 2008 Ashes hero Isa Guha admitting the future lies with the shortest format.
MCC leading the way
However, MCC - which will have seven full time women YCs and four scholarship players on its books next season - is encouraging the longer form of the game.
MCC YCs will take on MCC Women at High Wycombe in a two day match starting on Monday 25 April - a fixture Duncan believes will be beneficial to their game.
He said: "T20 is increasingly becoming the future of the women’s game but we’re trying to encourage the kind of skills which the longer form of the game produces.
"If you have a good technique which is effective in the longer form of the game it's likely to be effective in the shorter formats."