Aussies set own standards in pursuit of Cup glory
The Australia squad who completed a T20 and ODI clean sweep in the West Indies have been rewarded for their latest success, with the same 14 women named to take on Sri Lanka in series in Sydney and Brisbane.
Such is their recent dominance, Australia will be expected to dispatch the Sri Lankans, a team they have never lost to, in similar fashion.
However, with the small matter of a T20 World Cup title defence, on home soil, rounding out a busy domestic and international summer in February and March next year, star batter Rachael Haynes insists the team are alert to the dangers of complacency undermining their ultimate goal.
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"There's not too much talk in out change rooms about the World Cup yet. We are breaking the season down," Haynes says.
"The carrot of the World Cup in the distance is, I guess, hard not to be in your mind at some point. But definitely, it's series-by-series for us at the moment.
"We respect Sri Lanka as an opposition and want to play really good cricket during this series."
A semi-final loss in the 50-over World Cup in 2017 prompted a refocusing of effort that delivered instant rewards. Since the start of 2018 the side has lost just three matches across all formats.
The six match tour of the Caribbean was a one-sided affair. A situation that could present a challenges to development if replicated too often.
"At times we were really dominant as a team," says Haynes, "and we needed to make sure that we weren't getting too complacent at different times, not letting winning mask over anything.
"We kept challenging ourselves and making sure we were keeping to standards that we want to maintain as a team."
The final T20 contest in Barbados saw Australia set an all-time record for margin of victory, in terms of balls remaining, needing just 7.3 of the 20 overs available to seal victory.
Coach Matthew Mott has indicated motivation to improve must come from within, recently admitting "when we review our matches, it' not so much about the opposition but about what we can control".
Haynes says she and the rest of the team buy in to that process and the need to look deeper than results.
"It's about getting in the contest with the right thing," she says.
"So, in the Caribbean, for example, the wickets are a bit different to home and there are bowlers you might not have seen before. It's about little things like that, where you can find a contest within the bigger context of the match.
"I think the team did that really well. And it showed in some of the performances. We had three 100s in ODI cricket from three different batters, then the dominance we had over West Indies with the ball in the T20 format was pretty clear, too."
The decision to stick with a winning formula means spinner Sophie Molineux continues to be rested with a shoulder injury, while allrounder Heather Graham remains a chance of a debut after going uncapped in the Caribbean, where Erin Burns made her international bow.
"With the T20 World Cup just under five months away it's crucial to find some consistency in the T20 squad, and we feel like we have that which is pleasing," chief selector Shaun Flegler said
It's always difficult to break up winning teams.
Haynes, however, admits the conveyor belt of young talent Australia continues to produce means even established players are nonetheless looking over their shoulders.
"We're pretty aware of [the depth of young Australian talent] to be honest," says Haynes.
"It's exciting for the game. We know at some point they're going to come along and push for places in this team.
"That's a really healthy place for cricket in Australia to be in. With such a big summer ahead it's pretty competitive within our team environment, with people pretty keen to hold on to their places given what lies ahead."
After the Sri Lanka series, and before the World Cup, comes a Tri-Series involving England and India.
And a busy domestic season featuring, for the first time ever, a WBBL given clean air in a standalone competition running from October to December; "a monumental step forward," according to Haynes.
"You think about how far the game's come in such a short space of time. I think it's really exciting that Australian domestic players will have that window."
For now, however, Haynes is happy to be back home after three months on the road that included an away Ashes victory.
And starting the summer at a venue where the side love to play.
"When we landed at the weekend it was really nice to know that we're going to be home in Australia over the next couple of months," she says.
"The girls absolutely love playing cricket here, and particularly at North Sydney Oval, we've got a cult following there now, and the community really get behind it.
"It's such a wonderful atmosphere at the game with the fans being so close, having the kids there.
"Hopefully we'll get a really decent crowd there and we can put on a decent show for them."
Australia play three T20s at North Sydney on Sunday September 29, Monday September 30 and Wednesday October 2, before three ODIs in Brisbane.
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (capt), Erin Burns, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Heather Graham, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham.