Women's Ashes: Tourists show fighting spirit as England collapse


Australia 203-8 England 176 (Australia win by 27 runs)

Richard Rae

There is, it seems, still an Australian cricket team with a bit of dog in it after all. Refusing to give up when all seemed lost, Australia's women reminded the country's men how to fight to the end, turning what seemed like a certain loss into a victory which gives them the momentum in their quest to retain the Ashes.

Their total of 203 for 8 looked distinctly under par, even on a slow Lord's track, and even more so when England got off to an excellent start in their reply. Charlotte Edwards and Arran Brindle put on 63 for the opening wicket, and when Sarah Taylor was insouciantly and repeatedly clipping the Australian pace bowler Elysse Perry to the leg-side boundary it looked as though the home side were coasting home.

However, Taylor, as she has begun to do too often of late, flattered to deceive, getting out playing across the line at an innocuous delivery from the left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen, and when Edwards was dismissed after edging a catch behind trying to cut the off-spinner Erin Osborne, England simply collapsed.

"We stuck at it because I always felt that if we got a wicket or two we'd be right back in it," said Australia's captain Jodie Fields, who took the crucial catch behind the stumps to dismiss Edwards for 61.

"It was a bit slow out there, and Charlotte and Sarah were going well, but we kept fighting and in the end we got our rewards."

Osborne took 3 for 39 and Jonassen 4 for 38 as England lost their last nine wickets for just 87 runs. "We'd have liked another 20 runs or so, we got bogged down a little bit in the middle overs," said Osborne, whose husband Glen, having arrived at the Lord's pavilion wearing a tie, found he had to dash out to a local charity shop to acquire a jacket before he would be admitted.

"I thought we were very disciplined in our bowling," she added, "and getting the wicket of Charlotte really changed the match in our direction and we got a roll on."

Edwards could not hide her disappointment at a defeat which summoned up uncomfortable memories of the World Cup loss earlier this year, when England bowled Australia out for 147 but were then bowled out themselves for 145.

"It's frustrating because our bowlers were outstanding, led by Katherine Brunt, and we'd have happily taken their score. But we played some really, really naïve cricket when we were batting," said Edwards.

"Even after I was out we'd have backed ourselves to get 50 off the last 12 overs nine times out of 10. But there's a lot of cricket to be played in the series."

Brunt, cutting down her pace and bowling a splendidly tight line, took 3 for 29, but well though England bowled, some of the fielding was not up to their usual standard. Happily, as far as they were concerned, Australia's batters kept giving them chances, with four being dismissed caught at mid-off trying to hit the bowler straight.

The tourists' final score should not have been enough, but this is an Aussie team which doesn't roll over.