Heather Knight in action for England Women
London (AFP) - England’s women cricketers will play a home Test over five days for the first time next year against Australia while Ben Stokes’s men will launch their bid to reclaim the Ashes in June.
The England and Wales Cricket Board and Cricket Australia have agreed to break the longstanding convention that has restricted women’s Tests almost exclusively to four days.
The women’s Test begins at Trent Bridge on June 22, two days after the scheduled conclusion of the men’s Edgbaston opener against Australia.
England captain Heather Knight, whose side will also play three Twenty20s and three one-day internationals during the multi-format women’s Ashes against Australia, welcomed the five-day Test.
“I feel like I’ve been banging the drum for five days for a long time, so it’s a special moment,” she told Britain’s PA news agency.
“It feels like the right time, for five days, for bigger grounds, and it feels like it’s been a long time coming.”
Knight, whose side suffered a heavy defeat in this year’s Ashes in Australia, added: “You see the inequalities you’ve gone through and not really realised. Moving forward on an equal footing (with the men’s game) is a logical progression.”
Greg Barclay, chairman of the International Cricket Council, said in June that he did not believe Tests formed “part of the landscape” in the women’s game and could not see the format “evolving”.
But Knight said her side were committed to proving the opposite.
“After those comments, we talked about trying to save the format for women, to do everything we can to move the game forward, to keep Test matches going and make them appealing,” she said.
England’s men begin their 2023 home season with a four-day Test against Ireland at Lord’s on June 1.
Stokes’s team will attempt to wrestle the Ashes urn from Australia in a five-Test series that begins on June 16 and ends less than seven weeks later on July 31.
Former England captain Joe Root told PA: “Both teams want the Ashes back. With both series on at the same time there’ll hopefully be an Ashes buzz that both teams can tap into and benefit from.”
England’s men will also host New Zealand and Ireland for T20 series and play New Zealand in an ODI series.
The International Cricket Council announced separately that London would stage the next two World Test Championship finals.
The Oval will play host next year while Lord’s has been revealed as the venue for the 2025 edition.
Australia top the 2021-23 World Test Championship table, with South Africa in second place after a 2-1 defeat by England.