England secured a consolation win in the final match of the series but, much more than that, the ECB followed up Connor’s announcement with action, introducing a new regional structure, a new head coach – which has since changed again – and greater investment in the women’s game. All this we know but, even though it has taken four years, there is a strong sense now that the sea-change is complete.
On Friday, ahead of the penultimate match in the series, Beaumont drew parallels with the revival of England’s men’s team following their 4-0 Ashes defeat in Australia in 2021-22. Now both teams stand on the cusp of extraordinary achievements. England Women must win their remaining two ODIs if they are to win back the Ashes held by Australia since 2015, while their male counterparts trail Australia 1-2 and must win the last two Tests to win do likewise.
“It’s really important,” Beaumont said of her team’s never-say-die attitude, which has come to the fore in this series. “You’re seeing that with the men’s Ashes as well, they’ve gone two-nil down, but we don’t want to be pushovers anymore.
“That’s probably why this series has been so captivating to everyone. I am a massive cricket badger, but I feel like Ashes fever is everywhere for both the men and the women and it’s great to see. British culture has always loved an underdog so I think it’s probably helped that we’re taking on such a great team in Australia. I personally love that feeling of trying to overcome a bit of difficulty.”
“I just feel like there’s such great trust in everyone at every situation,” Beaumont said. “At Bristol the other day, there was no doubt in my mind that Kate Cross could bat like that. Every single one of us on the sideline felt completely at ease knowing that Kate had the skills to do it. Everybody just backs each other’s abilities and their decision-making. It’s a great feeling to have.”
That that wasn’t always the case, Beaumont says, especially against an opposition with as formidable a reputation as Australia, who went into Bristol unbeaten in 15 ODIs.
“In the past, if we’d lost the first two Ashes games, maybe wouldn’t have had that belief as much,” she said. “So from our way of looking at it, externally to them, we have kind of got that belief and a little bit of taking that aura away.”
“Definitely not,” Jonassen said. “This side has won a lot of games of cricket over a number of years and the fact that the last three haven’t really gone our way is no cause to panic.
“The scores are level. We haven’t played our best cricket, which is probably the thing that we’re focusing on the most. England still need to win two, but equally, we’re trying to win the last two as well. There’s two high-quality sides and if you’re not on on any given day, then the opposition is going to take the game away from you.
“Even though the losses we’ve had have been really, really tight and really close, we feel that it’s been our own undoing in a way, that we’ve been a bit sloppy in certain areas and lacked a little bit of discipline at times in terms of extras, misfields and what have you. But the positive is that’s all in our control.”
Whatever happens from this point, however, there is no denying now that the gap, identified so starkly four years ago, is closing.
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor, women’s cricket, at ESPNcricinfo