All-round excellence helped England’s women beat Australia by seven wickets and keep their Ashes hopes alive.
It was the first time England lived up to their mantra of playing positive cricket. Their fielding was sharper, their body language positive throughout the game.
After they had opted to field, both Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole bowled a tight line. Their pressure reaped rewards when Elyse Villani sent a leading edge back to Shrubsole.
Meg Lanning cut an assured figure at the crease. She started strongly, sweeping Jenny Gunn’s first delivery for six. But the introduction of Danielle Hazell, bowling tightly put a brake on Lanning’s progress. She had one scoring shot from the spinner before she bunted a full toss to mid-wicket.
It was Charlotte Edwards’ best performance as captain. She rotated her bowlers and, supported by some tight fielding, kept an aggressive field. Australia lost wickets in clusters. Ellyse Perry, promoted to opening the innings, was bowled by Natalie Sciver’s first ball before Jess Jonassen holed out to the same bowler. Grace Harris and Alex Blackwell both fell trying to force the pace, with Harris run out at the non-striker’s end.
Pressure and poor communication took its toll on Australia. Alyssa Healy and Erin Osborne were run out in fairly amateurish fashion as Australia lost four wickets for 13 runs, finally limping to 122 for eight, a below-par total for the power in their batting line-up.
They started well, though, in the field. Neither Perry nor Megan Schutt offered any width, with Schutt exploiting her natural inswing to good effect. Lauren Winfield, frustrated by the lack of scoring, chipped a catch to mid-off to leave England five for one, identical to Australia.
Sarah Taylor has been woefully short of form but now, in the format that suits her best, she found her rhythm. Her shots, at their best, scream look-at-me. There was the ramp off Perry that flew to the boundary; the movement of her feet as she laced Sarah Coyte through the off-side. “I didn’t play my game in the Test match,” Taylor said. “Going into this I was reminded that my game has been working for a while so there was no need to change it.”
Having a calm Edwards at the crease benefited England. The captain pulled while Taylor dabbed, both sharp between the wickets. Their 77-run partnership was full of good shots and clever running, ending when Edwards was stumped by Healy.
“We love batting together,” said Taylor . “She’s got such a calm head on her shoulders and she brings out the best of you in the middle. We spoke about earning the right to win this game. She’s phenomenal to watch and we work well together.”
Taylor registered a superb half-century from 43 balls before being stumped off Erin Osborne but Brunt, promoted to five, responded to the extra responsibility and, pulling and driving with aggression, took the series score to 8-4.
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