England’s women head into their second Twenty20 match against Australia on Friday hoping to build on Wednesday’s victory at Chelmsford and continue their fight to retain the Ashes.
It is fitting that England are returning to the venue of the first women’s international T20 game, which was held at Hove in 2004. On that occasion England lost to New Zealand by nine runs.
England have played at Hove three times, winning one ODI and losing both T20s. Things are, however, in England’s favour. Australia struggled on Chelmsford’s slow pitch, unable to time their shots and hit the spinner Danielle Hazell off the square. Hove may be similar, given the recent weather. There is also another big crowd expected, with 3,000 tickets already sold.
Australia looked off-colour on Wednesday. One victory would have sealed the Ashes but their batting never fired, with only the captain, Meg Lanning, showing any fluency.
England have been affected by the criticism they have received in this series, particularly after the Test match. It is something that comes with the territory of being a professional cricketer. Chelmsford was the first time they used that criticism to better themselves and they will be looking to build on that.
Their new-found confidence was shown in their fielding. There was still the odd mistake, with Jenny Gunn putting down a chance from Ellyse Perry but, on the whole, it was an improved display from the three ODIs. They looked more positive in the field. The reintroduction of Hazell and Danielle Wyatt to the side lifted England, giving them an energy that had previously been missing.
Sarah Taylor’s innings showed a gradual return to form but it was the way England coped without Charlotte Edwards that was the most pleasing. The lower-order cameos from Natalie Sciver and Katherine Brunt were brutal, Brunt’s promotion to No5 working instantly, and ensured that England finished the game quickly. They will need to take this positivity into Hove.
Lanning’s level-headedness will calm any jitters in the Australian camp. Simply put, they need to bat better. Perry, promoted to open, made 30 but never looked set at the crease. The middle order seemed to find a boundary and then fall almost instantly. The running looked embarrassingly amateurish, with more than one player falling as they were stranded halfway up the crease.
The Australian spinners did not enjoy a good game either. They could barely land the ball as they struggled to get to grips with a dewy, greasy surface. Megan Schutt was the pick of the bowlers, taking the pace off the ball and exploiting her natural inswing. She will be key in helping Australia get back on track.
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