So... here are the deets:
|July 21||ODI||The County Ground, Taunton||2||1|
|July 23||ODI||Bristol County Ground||2||1|
|July 26||ODI||New Road, Worcester||2||1|
|August 11-14||Test||The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury||4||2|
|August 26||T20||Essex County Ground, Chelmsford||2||N/A|
|August 28||T20||County Ground, Hove||2||N/A|
|August 31||T20||SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff||2||N/A|
There's actually quite a lot to digest here, so let's break it down!
It's great that the schedule has been announced so early - fans do need time to make their travel arrangements and book their hotels, so it is fantastic that the ECB are at last recognizing that their are women's cricket fans who want to plan ahead!
Not only that, but all of the games are taking place at proper county grounds, designed to cater for bigger crowds. (Sorry Wormsley - you are lovely, but...) Sadly, there's no Lords on the agenda; but you can't have everything I guess; and I accept that there are some draw-backs (not least financial ones) to half-opening the Home of Cricket for women's games, even if it is The Ashes.
Now on to the changes in format!
Firstly, the Test has been moved to the middle of the series. My understanding is that this was mostly driven by TV scheduling, and the need to find a window which didn't clash with any of the men's games; but I think it is nonetheless a positive move in terms of not front-loading the Big Points.
And secondly... about those Big Points: the Test will now be worth just 4 points, rather than the previous 6. The value of the Test will be argued long and hard by fans, as it has been by the administrators, so I'm told! And the bottom line is that most of us agree that the Test probably should be worth 6 points "philosophically"; but practically this makes the series too unbalanced and I think 4 is therefore a good compromise.
Finally, SKY have announced that the whole caboodle - Test and all - will be broadcast live and in full. I'm not SKY's biggest fan, but you have to give them some credit here, as well as the ECB for nudging away at them to take up the rights they've paid for and give the game the exposure it deserves.