England v Australia
County Ground, Taunton: 18th – 21st July 2019
The equation was simple: the only way England could win the Ashes was to win this very Test match, and the T20s to follow after Australia had won the ODI part of the multi format series 3-0.
Meg Lanning and her team simply had to draw the Test and given the form of Test cricket in recent times, even given a four day fixture, the prospect of a drawn match loomed large. Heather Knight’s best hopes for the Test rested with her two young spinners, Sophie Ecclestone, who performed well during the ODIs, and debutant Kirstie Gordon. Australia on the other hand, drafted in quick bowler Tayla Vlaeminck. It seemed a strange selection, given the venue’s reputation of providing a turning track.
Lanning won the toss and had no hesitation in batting. If this track was in fact going to take turn, she wasn’t going to be batting last. Besides, batting first in four day Tests almost guarantees you won’t lose.
Katherine Brunt made the first breakthrough for England, dismissing Nicole Bolton for 6 when the score was 25. It was uphill from then on for the hosts. Alyssa Healy provided a typically bright 58 before being Gordon’s first Test wicket. That merely brought Ellyse Perry to the crease. Lanning fell for 57, but a 162 run partnership between Perry and Rachael Haynes pretty much ruined England’s chances of regaining the Ashes. Perry fell for 116, Haynes 87 and Beth Mooney chipped in with 51. As if Perry wasn’t a big enough headache, rain then began tumbling down and England’s Ashes hopes with it.
Lanning declared Australia’s innings closed, 8 wickets for 420. Perry then dismissed Tammy Beaumont in the first over. Things just weren’t going England’s way. The toss, the weather… Perry! A gallant and patient knock of 88 from Nat Sciver – deserving of a century – as she held together England’s batting line up. Knight declared at 9/275, but the game was drifting further and further away from England. Lanning had one hand firmly gripping the Ashes. Sophie Molineux in her Test debut was the highest wicket taker, with 4-95.
The second innings for Australia was merely a formality. Perry remained 76 not out as Australia scored 7/230, the Test ending in a draw. Needless to say, the Aussie allrounder was named Player of the Match. Lanning’s Australian team had retained the Ashes.
Australia 8 dec 420 (Perry 117, Haynes 87, Healy 58, Lanning 57, Mooney 51, Brunt 2-48) and 7/230 (Perry 76*, Molineux 41, Knight 2-25) drew with England 9/275 dec (Sciver 88, Jones 64, Molineux 4-95, Jonassen 2-50)