The one-off Test of the Women’s Ashes multi-format series began today at Manuka Oval in Canberra. The visitors won the toss and elected to field first. Megan Schutt was rested prioritizing the World Cup whereas, leg-spinning all-rounder Alana King got her baggy green. Charlie Dean made her debut for England.
It was the perfect start for England as the experienced duo of Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole struck early during the start of the day.
Brunt removed Healy for a duck. Shrubsole picked Beth Mooney’s wicket in the next over and Australia were down to 4 for 2, certainly, not the start the Australian team would’ve wanted.
Ellyse Perry and Rachael Haynes then looked in control as Perry smashed a couple of boundaries off Kate Cross and Haynes had two fours off Brunt. Perry, who has a remarkable record against England, was caught by Amy Jones at 18 off Nat Sciver.
Captain Meg Lanning then joined Vice-captain in the middle and they slowly brought Australia back on top and entered the Lunch without a loss of wicket.
However, Lanning was dropped twice– once by Shrubsole and later by England’s skipper Heather Knight just before lunch.
After lunch, both the batters looked confident. Rachael’s half-century came from 107 balls and Lanning’s half-century came from 97 deliveries. England then bounced back when Nat Sciver denied Lanning her maiden Test ton. The Australian skipper was on 93 when Knight caught her at slips. In the very next over, Brunt took Haynes’ wicket at 86.
This was the third time Haynes came close to hitting a century in the Test match. She got out at 98 on her debut at Worcester in 2009 and in last Ashes she got out at 87.
Haynes, during the end of the day’s interview, revealed that this is likely to be her last Ashes Test match.
“It’s probably a fair assumption, think it probably will be my last Ashes Test. I just want to enjoy it. It’s a really special occasion, not just for me but for the whole team. This series is one that’s held in really high regard. First and foremost I just want to focus on tomorrow and get another good day’s play,” she said.
After their dismissal, one would’ve thought that the visitors had things under control. However, Ashleigh Gardner and Tahlia McGrath had other ideas as the duo went on to make half-century respectively.
Gardner smashed Sciver for a six and a four in the 70th over. She brought up her half-century with an excellent cover drive off Brunt.
An animated Brunt then turned the course of the session within three deliveries during the 89th over. As Gardner defended one straight back at her, she threw the ball back at Gardner. The ball had hit her pad and Brunt appealed for obstructing the field. She then acknowledged the boos she got from the crowd by waving back at them. As the decision turned not-out, a visibly irritated Gardner replied with a boundary through covers.
Brunt, however, had the last laugh when she managed to get one back to hit Gardner’s pad. An unsuccessful review from the all-rounder witnessed her walk back to the dug out.
Tahlia McGrath continued despite what was happening at the end. She even smashed Kate Cross for 3 fours in an over and then brought her half-century in 88 balls. As Australia looked to end the day on a high, nobody knew what went inside McGrath’s mind as she played a big drive off the Day one’s final delivery. A thick edge helped the ball to land into the safe hands of Amy Jones, who had her 5th catch of the day.
At stumps, Australia are at 327/7 currently. Brunt and Sciver took three each and were the pick of the bowlers for England.
Australia Playing XI: Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy (wk), Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Meg Lanning (c), Tahlia McGrath, Ashleigh Gardner, Annabel Sutherland, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Darcie Brown
England Playing XI: Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Winfield-Hill, Heather Knight (c), Nat Sciver, Sophia Dunkley, Amy Jones (wk), Katherine Brunt, Charlie Dean, Anya Shrubsole, Sophie Ecclestone, Kate Cross