Rolton leads latest bout of Pom bashing

England 144 and 10-0 v Australia 383-4 dec
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The Independent Online

When it comes to bashing Poms, the Waugh boys are some way behind the Sheilas. So far this summer, Australia's girls have whacked England in three friendly matches, three one-day internationals and one four-day Test match. The possibility of a complete whitewash – or greenwash? – can be assessed from the latest scoreline.

Most of yesterday's whacking came from Karen Rolton, 26, a perky left-hander, green cap on top of a chestnut ponytail, who achieved a women's world record score of 209, not out, and helped Louise Broadfoot to a women's record stand of 253 for the fourth wicket.

Rolton works nights as a motel receptionist in order to play cricket. A colleague compared her approach and stroke play to Darren Lehmann – both come from Adelaide. Her runs came from 313 balls and included 29 fours and a six. Like Don Bradman before her, she was given a standing ovation at Headingley.

England, who also gave her far too many slow half-volleys, will say that this year's team, average age 23, is very much in the transitional stage. Locals grumble that Yorkshire, who have won the county championship eight times in the last nine years, have only one player in this new team. Male selectors, it seems, are not the only ones to suffer from occasional bouts of dementia. A new coach, John Harmer, who is, unsurprisingly, an Australian, takes over from Tuesday. He growls: "It will all look very different in two years' time".

Whatever the final result of this series, there is much to enthuse about in the women's game, enough in fact for English county clubs, desperate to improve their day-by-day attendances, to pay attention. More than 600,000 British girls now play the game in one form or another, an enormous pool of potential followers, spectators, even members. It will come as a shock to some county committees to read this, but the incontrovertible fact is that half the human race is female.

There were probably as many men as women scattered around, under hazy sunshine; a cheerful, enthusiastic little crowd. What regular cricket watchers have to adjust to is the difference in tempo. These players do not have the physical power to employ so much of the brute force that is an exciting aspect of the men's game, but once it is accepted that the world's fastest bowler, Australia's Cathryn Fitzpatrick, bowls at about Mark Butcher's pace, all the other measurements are relative.

In return, the women's game offers grace and subtlety; there are more spin bowlers seeking flight and turn, more little dabs and cuts and glides. England's fielders yesterday were alert (although three chances were missed), fast in their pick-ups and precise in their throwing. Captain Clare Connor, of Sussex, bowled her orthodox slow left arm, and chinamen, within 10 overs of the restart as Australia, one wicket down, set off 76 behind with Lisa Keightley and Rolton striking the ball impressively. Keightley, a tall righthander, was unlucky to be run out, with 25 added, by Katy Lowe's neat collection and accurate throw from midwicket.

The second wicket followed three overs later as Michelle Goszko, who scored the then world record 204 on her debut in the first Test at Shenley, seemed to play on to Yorkshire's Clare Taylor. A squeal of triumph came from the Aussie dressing room when the Lions' rugby defeat registered and Australia went into the lead after 95 minutes. By early afternoon Rolton had reached her 100, and Australia's 200, with a neatly placed late-cut boundary off the lively Lucy Pearson.

The punishing partnership developed between Rolton and Broadfoot. Connor, changing ends, might have held a sharp return catch from the latter, on 40. Rolton marched past 150, accumulating 22 fours and a six pulled into the Bowling Green stand. Seven runs later she skied Taylor only to see cover, racing in, fail to hold the catch, and Australia advanced past 300.

As soon as Rolton had reached her record, Belinda Clark declared leaving England, 239 behind, to face eight overs to the close. They had reached 10 for 0 by close but the pitch is deteriorating.

Considering "owt for nowt" remains the basic philosophy hereabouts, it's amazing how many Tykes are missing free entertainment.

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