Series: England in Australia Jan/Feb 2022
Venue: Adelaide Oval
Result: Australia by 9 wickets
Ooh Aah! McGrath Shines in Ashes Opener
Tahlia McGrath went into the Ashes opener without a batting or bowling average in T20 Internationals for she had never taken a wicket and had never been dismissed. She now has a tidy bowling average of 13.33 after taking 3-26 but her batting performance of 91 not out still leaves her with no batting average. It’s a handy problem to have.
There’s no more spectacular venue under lights than Adelaide Oval and what a splendid view for the Ashes opener. Perhaps covid kept everyone at home for the crowd in attendance was well short of what the occasion deserved.
Meg Lanning won the toss for Australia and elected to field, as is her custom. Danni Wyatt (70) and Tammy Beaumont (30) started cautiously against an opening attack given single over spells, but then launched themselves into an entertaining partnership of 82 runs in 10 overs. Wyatt hammered Jess Jonassen out of the attack with two massive sixes to long on while Beaumont simply fed the strike back to her partner to maintain the momentum.
After conceding 8 runs in the first over of her debut, Alana King (1-28) made the breakthrough with a smart catch off her own bowling. It brought to a halt England’s highest opening partnership in this format against Australia. In the same over Danni Wyatt reached her half century. Nat Sciver (32) took a little while to get moving but played a scorching off drive off Nic Carey (0-27) to put that bowler out of the attack.
At one stage a score in the range of 180+ looked a chance but Tahlia McGrath “T Mac” put paid to that, bowling both Sciver and Wyatt in the 17th over. She took a third when she removed Amy Jones (4) to finish with 3-26. It left England with 169/4 – a reasonable tally for their toil but it did feel 15 to 20 runs short on a wicket that was made for runs.
Alyssa Healy was always going to open the batting but who would be her partner in the absence of the injured Beth Mooney? The smart money was on the left-handed Rachael Haynes but that money was lost when the captain came out to open the innings. It was a bold statement and a welcome return to the top of the order. It’s Meg’s best batting position and she showed it. Healy (7) went early but it was vintage Lanning (64*) back at her best. When she plays the cut so effectively as she did in this innings you know she has found form.
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Healy’s dismissal merely caused a headache for England in the form of Tahlia McGrath. Whoever chose to bat this player in the number three position deserves credit, for T Mac blazed away for an unbeaten 91, one of her drives the equal of Sciver’s earlier one. She was momentarily within sight of a century before two Lanning boundaries finished the match.
Australia won by 9 wickets and one feels that they would have done so even if they were chasing another 20 runs. Whatever England did with the bat was never going to be enough. It was as comprehensive an opening statement a team would want to make in an Ashes opener.
Tahlia McGrath was named Player of the Match, now boasting a bowling average and still yet to be dismissed.
England 169/4 (Danni Wyatt 70, Nat Sciver 32, Tammy Beaumont 30, Tahlia McGrath 3-26) 20 overs
Australia 170/1 (Tahlia McGrath 91*, Meg Lanning 64*, Sophie Ecclestone 1-29) 0 overs
Player of the Match: Tahlia McGrath