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England Women v Australia Women third ODI preview: Can England hit back from Ashes heartache?

The destiny of the Ashes won't be riding on the outcome, but don't be surprised if England and Australia sign off with another classic to cap a pulsating summer of international women's cricket.

Australia's three-run win at Southampton in Sunday's gripping second one-day international gave Alyssa Healy's team an unassailable 8-6 lead in the seven-match series.

It was yet another fabulous contest between two evenly-matched nations and while the stakes might now be lower at Taunton with the fate of the Ashes sealed, it would be fitting if the series concluded with another 50-over thriller.

WhatEngland Women v Australia Women, third ODI
WhereCounty Ground, Taunton
When13:00, Tuesday 18th July, 2023
How to watchSky Sports Cricket & Sky Sports Main Event
OddsEngland Women 13/10, Australia Women 8/13

Fans wowed by summer fireworks

Six down, one to go and what a summer Australia and England have laid on so far.

It all began with a Test match that was up for grabs right until the final day when the Aussies held their nerve to pick up four crucial points for the win.

But the best was yet to come, first with three T20s, each of which went down to the wire with England taking the series 2-1.

And now we've had two utterly gripping 50-over showdowns, the first going England's way by a nailbiting two-wicket margin at Bristol. And the drama there was more than matched at Southampton a couple of days later when the Aussies avenged that loss by three runs.

The oddity of having one match – the Test – being worth four points while all the white-ball games have been worth two means that Australia, as holders, have retained the Ashes whatever happens in Taunton.

But with the ODI series finely poised at 1-1 you can be sure that both camps will be desperate to enjoy a last hurrah and lay on another treat for a growing army of fans.

Will super series be settled by another nailbiter?

Both teams will be heading to the County Ground in Taunton full of confidence.

Australia, perhaps surprised by the intensity and improvement in the England team, have survived the onslaught and secured the prize.

England, written off by so many before the series had even started, have more than held their own and are just one win away from beating Australia in a T20 and 50-over series in the space of a few, short weeks.

Despite the fact there is demonstrably so little between the two teams, England are 13/10 shots, while Australia are 8/13.

Drama is almost a given bearing in mind what has happened over the past month and it's 25/1 to go to a Super Over.

One bet that should appeal more is England at 10/11 on the handicap, receiving 3.5 wickets or 15 runs depending on whether they bat or bowl first.

Heather Knight, the England captain, insists the gap is close and she and her side will be desperate to maintain the pressure and continue their improvement.

Spinners have given the Aussies timely edge

With three match wins apiece across the three formats, these sides are pretty much inseparable, with the margins between them fine.

But Australia clearly stole a march in team selection at Southampton, picking four spinners in conditions that were helpful.

The quartet of Ashleigh Gardner (who opened the bowling), Alana King, Georgia Wareham and Jess Jonassen bowled 35 overs between them and piled up 88 dot balls as England's batters struggled to find gaps in the middle overs. The four spinners took all seven wickets to fall.

At Bristol in the game before the Australian spinners took a combined four for 111, England's three for 125.

Clearly conditions at Taunton will determine team selection but the case for Charlie Dean, who opened the bowling successfully as England won the third T20, is compelling, especially given the sapping number of overs bowled by frontline seamers Lauren Bell and Kate Cross this summer.

Gardner to sign off with player-of-match heroics?

It's entirely possible – given the series is effectively over as a contest – that both camps will ring the changes to bring in squad players.

It is hard to see England dispensing with the services of stars like Sophie Ecclestone and all-rounder Nat Sciver-Brunt, whose gallant 111 not out at Southampton got her team to within a couple of blows of a record run chase.

And it's just as hard to see Australia going without Ellyse Perry, Beth Mooney or star all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner, who looks overpriced in player of the match betting at 11/1.

Gardner has had a magnificent summer taking 20 wickets and chipping in with four scores of 30 or more.

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