Australia ended day one of the one-off Ashes Test in Taunton in a commanding position at 265 for 3. To those glancing through the scorecard it may have appeared to be a day when run-scoring was easy. However, Anya Shrubsole believes that England stuck it out and made the hosts earn their runs through the day— especially through the middle session. Although England would have loved a couple more wickets at the end of day’s play, they genuinely believe they are well in the game.
“I will say that you can’t win a Test match on the first day, but you can lose it if you go far too hard at it,” said Shrubsole at stumps on Thursday (July 18). “I don’t think you can come out swinging against the new ball, but the ball gets soft and stops swinging pretty quickly, so there will be opportunity to score. I think they showed that if you get yourself in, it gets quite a lot easier to bat.”
“It was attritional Test cricket, that’s for sure. I think credit to the way we went about it. I think we hung in there really well. We never really let the run rate get away from us.. And also credit to the way they batted in that evening session. They didn’t really give us a sniff and batted with real discipline and made it pretty hard work for us.”
Despite Shrubsole’s confidence, the hosts were often off the boil with the ball and in the field. Kirstie Gordon bowled a fair many full tosses, while many of the other bowlers dropped short far too often. When the bowlers began to find some consistency and apply pressure, the fielders let them down. Through the course of the day, England let some opportunities slip— two of which cost them close to 60 runs.
Meg Lanning was dropped by Heather Knight when she was on 26 and she went on to score 57, while Healy too cashed in on a missed opportunity with her maiden fifty.
“To be honest it didn’t really feel like that (the pressure was being released) out there. Particularly in that middle session I think we built a lot of pressure— lots of close decision and all those kinds of things… A bit of luck here and there and it could be a bit different. Of course you never want to bowl a full toss, never want to bowl a half-volley, but these things happen, we’re human.”
“We obviously dropped a couple of catches and that’s always disappointing,” Shrubsole added.“Meg got 30-odd more and Alyssa probably the same. So, thats always disappointing. Like I said, I think the way we stuck at it throughout the day— 100 overs in the field is something that we’re not used to. I think we stuck at it really well, and it’s probably a really evenly poised Test match.”
While it is England who need to win the Test match to stay alive in the series, Australia are have maintained that they will not be happy with a draw. Despite what appeared to be a rather tepid approach through the first day, Rachael Haynes insists that Australia are looking to push for a win.
“We said from the start we do actually want to get a result out of the game, it’s not in the Australian way to play for a draw or anything like that,” said Haynes.
“Having wickets in hand is really important— that’ll allow us to accelerate tomorrow at some stage. It (batting) got tough through the day. You could see that England adjusted their lines and bowled straighter to us so it wasn’t easy to score. To be honest it doesn’t feel like a day one wicket, so I think we’re pretty happy with where it sits at the moment.”
With batting likely to get more difficult as the game progresses, and the threat of rain looming large, the odds appear to be stacked against England, but Shrubsole insists they will continue to fight.