Womens Cricket: Taylor adds to the pressure

England Women v India Women
Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE BEAUTIFUL ground here at Shenley was originally designed by none other than W G Grace and commissioned by the local landowner, and so it is a genuine survivor of Victorian country house cricket.

The great man's design, however, could not have been a taxing chore. It is as if he simply ran a pencil around a circular dinner plate, put some dots in the middle to represent stumps, and collected his fee.

Ten years ago the pavilion was derelict, the square barely used. What is now Shenley Cricket Centre has been lovingly developed by the former Middlesex player Eric Russell. It is now a first-class ground boasting 17 strips on a broad, flat table. As the perfect Tourist Board image of cricket, it is used by MCC as their country headquarters.

Yesterday the calm ritual of this one-off Test was carried out against the noise of school children, supporting both England and India, celebrating the arrival of the long holiday. Their boisterous intrusions were very welcome, since progress in the middle was at times soporific.

England spent the best part of nine hours in compiling 329, their slow accumulation halted at 2.25pm yesterday not by a declaration but by the sudden vulgarity of a run-out. They had thus insured themselves against defeat.

Umpire John Steele confirmed during the break that 150 runs rather than 200 was the relevant follow-on deficit, and on a docile wicket England needed to press hard for this advantage.

Given that women's cricket lacks fast bowling, with its ability to thud the ball menacingly against the splice, and that big hitting is a rarity, its cause is not helped when cautious batting and containing bowling conspire together. At no time had England's batting given any sense of urgency, as though four days on a featherbed was an eternity.

England's opening bowler Clare Taylor had the answer when, in her second over, she reduced India to 1 for 2. Taylor and her opening partner Suzanne Redfern looked to have a little more zip than their Indian counterparts.

Taylor had India's wicket keeper and opening bat, Anju Jain, trapped lbw and then persuaded her replacement, Anjum Chopra, to snick one to Jayne Cassar. When the first-change bowler Laura Newton undid Purnima Rau - a second catch for Cassar, the wife of Derbyshire's Matthew - India had only crept to 24 for 3 in the 15th over, and at tea England were chirpily on top.