England v Australia
County Ground, Hove: 9th – 12th August 2005
Australia’s Belinda Clark won the toss at Hove and elected to bat in what was to be her last Test series. Kate Blackwell, Shelley Nitschke and Clea Smith were debutants for Australia, Beth Morgan and Holly Colvin for England. Clare Connor was still the England skipper and alongside her were batting stalwarts Charlotte Edwards, Claire Taylor, Arran Brindle and fast bowling duo Katherine Brunt and Jenny Gunn.
“Both teams had been re-modelled and this was going to be a tight contest. We knew they were after us and had a number of world class players ready to prove a point.” – ClarkEmbed from Getty Images
Australia was in a precarious position at 7/115 before fast bowler Cathryn Fitzpatrick scored her one and only half century in Test cricket. What a time to score it! Julie Hayes, batting at number nine, also score her first Test 50. Both Hayes and Fitzpatrick each had a previous best score of 18. When Hayes was out the score was 9/236, modest but far better than Australia had hoped for at one stage.
“Every time we played against England we were always prepared for a fight. We wanted to send Belinda off in a winning way with it being her last series too.” – Rolton
The last wicket pairing of debutants Shelley Nitschke and Clea Smith were entitled to feel nervous in their first knocks in Test cricket, but clearly no-one told them. In a stunning introduction to Test cricket, Nitschke, batting at 10, scored 13 fours and a six to finish with 81 not out. Smith gave great support with 7 fours in her 42. The tenth wicket partnership was worth 119 runs and Australia finished with an excellent total of 355.Embed from Getty Images
“It was a gutsy effort. Shelley Nitschke was inexperienced and would end up becoming an opener so that was the great performance. I think we knew Hayes and Fitzpatrick were capable and solid but Clea Smith’s performance was out of the box.” – Clark
England, led by the bat of Charlotte Edwards, were not going to lay down however and piled on 273 in response. Edwards was supported by Brindle (54) and the captain Connor (46).
The demons in the wicket early in Australia’s first innings had seemed to have subsided and runs were becoming easier to score, however not for the Aussie skipper as she failed again in the second innings, registering a pair. Lisa Keightley had gone earlier, also for a duck and Australia were 2/7.
Karen Rolton came to the rescue and was assisted by a 40 from Lisa Sthalekar. Rolton was unlucky to miss a century, runout for 97. The Aussies finished with 223, leaving England a target of 305 in 95 overs. Seven wickets down for 172, England staved off an Australian victory courtesy of the bat of Brindle, who finished 101 not out.
“Yes, we were trying to get to the tail so Brindle received some free runs but nonetheless batted well and held the innings together. This was a massive missed opportunity in the Test and we paid for it.” – Clark
Australia 355 (Nitschke 81*, Hayes 57, Fitzpatrick 53, Smith 42, Brunt 3-64) and 223 (Rolton 97, Blackwell 58, Sthalekar 40, Connor 4-68, Gunn 3-40) drew with England 273 (Edwards 69, Brindle 54, Connor 41, Nitschke 3-59) and 7/172 (Brindle 101*, Sthalekar 3-44)