Confidence high among women ahead of Test

DESPITE being unable to achieve a series whitewash in the Twenty20 series, England's women remain confident of following the men and winning the Ashes Test that started in Sydney overnight.

England have had a mixed tour so far, losing narrowly 2-1 in the one-day international series before their emphatic 4-1 victory in the T20 series.

That series win has allowed captain Charlotte Edwards to be in positive mood ahead of the Test.

"I'm delighted with the series win," she said. "We've played our brand of cricket and it's paid off in four of the five matches. It's the first time we've won a limited overs series in Australia, so I'm very happy."

The team will be able to focus on the positives of beating the current world champions with a line-up short on big match experience.

As well as Edwards, Lydia Greenway has been in fine form in the middle order, contributing substantial scores in all five T20 matches as well as the ODI series, subsequently being named player of the series. The left-hander provides the same pivotal role as Eoin Morgan does for the men with the ability to score consistently under pressure and close games out.

Laura Marsh is the perfect foil for Edwards at the top of the batting order and there are runs throughout the side.

Barnsley's Katherine Brunt, meanwhile, will be hoping to play a major role in the Ashes Test after being ommitted from the T20 series. Brunt was named Cricketer of the Year in 2010 but the fast bowler has not figured since the first ODI in Perth and will be keeping her fingers crossed for a starting place in Sydney.

England – unbeaten in the last two Ashes Tests – face a tough battle against the hosts.

Australian vice-captain Shelley Nitshcke is a dangerous all rounder and proved to be a constant thorn in England's side throughout the T20 series, producing a match-winning performance in Australia's only T20 success.

Nitshcke scored 23 batting at No 3 and then produced figures of 3-16 in four overs, taking the pivotal wicket of Edwards for 37 in the 52-run victory.

Australia will hope they have taken some of the momentum away from England with the last T20 win and will aim to rekindle the form they produced in the earlier ODI series.

Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan has announced he will retire from the international scene following next month's World Cup.

Despite quitting Test cricket last summer, the 38-year-old has continued to represent his country at one-day level.

But Muralitharan, who has 800 Test wickets and 517 one-day wickets, will step aside completely after the conclusion of the World Cup, which begins next month.

"I'm going to retire from international cricket, totally, after this World Cup," he said. Sri Lanka are co-hosts of the tournament with India and Bangladesh, providing the perfect arena for Muralitharan to bow out of the game.