The defending champions Australia retained the Ashes as the one-off test that was played between July 18 and July 21 at Taunton ended in a draw, with the visitors taking an unassailable lead of 8-2 over the hosts.
Winning the toss and electing to bat first, Australia posted a mammoth 420-8 in 154.4 overs. Opener Alyssa Healy provided a perfect start to the day as she muscled a 81-ball 58 smashing 12 boundaries. The loss of her partner Nicole Bolton did not hurt much as skipper Meg Lanning (57) and all-rounder Ellyse Perry (116) put their heads down to send England on back foot. After the fall of Lanning and Perry, England would have thought to take a breather, but Rachael Haynes (87) and Beth Mooney (51) were in no mood to let it loose. Finally the Aussies decided to declare the innings after Mooney was out. The English bowlers had a tough outing with the ball as none of their bowlers looked to break the long Aussie partnerships. Katherine Brunt, Sophie Ecclestone, and Laura Marsh picked up two wickets apiece, with Natalie Sciver and Kirstie Gordon striking with one dismissal each.
To go ahead the 420-run mark set by Australia, special effort was required from England. However, Perry clean bowled the in-form opening bat Tammy Beaumont which put the hosts in a predicament, whether to play out the innings or try to surpass 420 runs. Amy Ellen Jones (64), the other opener partnered with skipper Heather Knight (28) to put up a 79-run partnership. After the loss of Knight, England’s chances to stay in the match looked bleak. However Natalie Sciver (88) steadied the sinking ship as she played a patient 180-ball knock. England kept losing wickets at regular intervals with half of their back in the hut inside 50 overs. 21 year old Sophie Molineux wrecked havoc with her slow left arm bowling as she scalped 4-95 in her 37 overs. Jess Jonassen picked up 2-50 in 21.1 overs with Ellyse Perry and Ashleigh Gardner striking with one wicket each. England scored 275-9 in 107.1 overs at the end of first innings.
Batting again, riding on Perry’s unbeaten 76, Australia posted 230-7 in 64 overs. Laura Marsh again picked up two wickets, with Kirstie Gordon and Heather Knight also bagging couple of wickets each. May be wanting to replicate Aussie Sophie’s success, English Sophie was asked to open the attack. Ecclestone struck with 1-37 in her 16 overs.
Australia’s Ellyse Perry was presented with the Player of the Match for scoring 116 and 76 not out and picking up one wicket.
The test ended in a draw. The four points were shared by the two teams equally. The two sides will lock horns in a three-match T20 series starting July 26 at Chelmsford. Even if England wins all the three T20s and equals with Australia’s 8 points, the visitors will still retain the Ashes.
By Juili Ballal
Juilie has represented Mumbai Women’s Team, she is also an IIT’ian