Australia v England
Gabba, Brisbane: 15th – 17th February 2003
At the Gabba for only the second women’s Test ever played at the ground, Belinda Clark had three debutants to Test cricket joining her team. Emma Twining, a left arm quick bowler, Lisa Sthalekar, an off-break bowler and middle order batter, and Alex Blackwell, a middle order batter. All were from NSW and familiar to Clark, both from the NSW team and for Twining and Sthalekar, the Australian ODI team.Embed from Getty Images
Clark won the toss for Australia and sent England in to bat, giving the new ball straight to Cathryn Fitzpatrick. Immediately the move paid dividends, the extra bounce catching the England team unawares. Fitzpatrick thrived in the conditions and collected 4-32 from 29.3 overs. England were all out for just 124.
If the English were down from their batting, they showed that they were not out, so to speak. Lucy Pearson was every bit as damaging as Fitzpatrick had been, taking 4 Aussie scalps for 31 as the home side was dismissed for a mere 78. The fast bowlers from both teams were dining out on players struggling with both pace and bounce.
“Lucy was an imposing bowler physically and also how she held herself on the field. Cathryn Fitzpatrick has the same fiery nature as Lucy, probably even more fiery!” – Alex BlackwellEmbed from Getty Images
The Aussies returned fire themselves. Fitzpatrick continued from where she left off and with 4-28 helped roll England for 92. This left Australia to score 139 for victory – a larger total than had been scored on this treacherous Gabba wicket thus far.
It started where the first innings ended with Lisa Sthalekar out for a duck after she’d weathered the storm for 26 minutes. It brought the normally free-hitting Karen Rolton to the crease to join the skipper, and between them they set about mowing down the runs, ever watchfully, cautiously.
“We knew we needed to remain patient and knock the runs off in a positive but controlled way. We were determined to make amends for the bad batting in the 1st innings.” – Clark
“Yes there were some nerves but we always had confidence in all our batters to get past the total no matter how many wickets we were down.” – Rolton
Rolton went for a hard fought 46 when the score was exactly 100 and was followed soon after by Clark for 47. Three wickets down for 104. Mel Jones went for 4 at the same total. It brought the debutant Blackwell to the crease.
“I was getting hit in the gloves many times off a good length. This was because I was not used to the extra bounce at the Gabba and also due to the quality of the fast bowlers for England like the very tall and imposing Lucy Pearson.” – Blackwell
When Michelle Goszko fell the score was 5/111 and in came Julie Hayes to join Blackwell, who continued to take a pummeling in her gloves and another sort to her ears.
“I remember getting quite a bit of sledging because the England players felt like they were in with a chance of getting me caught off my gloves. I enjoyed the intensity of the occasion and the grit required to push through the challenging onslaughts of quality bowling and chirp from the opposition fielders.” – Blackwell
Push through it she did and Blackwell survived 85 balls to score 9 not out while Hayes was 18 not out at the other end when Australia passed the required score, winning the Test by five wickets. It was a remarkable turnaround after having been demolished for just 78 runs in the first innings.
“It’s always a nervous bench and change room until the final run is scored. This was no different. It was much better to be in the middle than sitting and watching. So the 3 of us would have been kicking ourselves that we were back and having to count every run as we edged towards victory.” – Clark
England 124 (Fitzpatrick 4-32, Rolton 2-6, McGregor 2-24) and 92 (Fitzpatrick 4-28 Hayes 3-9) lost to Australia 78 (Pearson 4-31, Newton 3-10, Connor 2-8) and 5/139 (Clark 47, Rolton 46, Collyer 2-17)