Elyse Villani in action. ©ICC

Australia A capped off a successful tour of England with a five-run win over England Academy in the second and final T20 match at Millfield School in Somerset on Friday (July 19). Half-centuries from Elyse Villani and Erin Burns set the tone for Australia A before Heather Graham held her nerve in a tight last over to seal the series.

 

Chasing 173, the hosts required 28 runs off the last two overs with Mady Villers going strong. Villers took 13 runs off the 19th over bowled by Delissa Kimmince, smashing a four and a six to give the hosts some hope. However, Graham kept her calm in the last over— even bowling a dot off the penultimate delivery— to seal a nervy victory for Australia A. Villiers’ 15-ball 30 at the back end of the innings went in vain.

 

Earlier in the day, Villani’s rapid 46-ball 71 set up the innings for Australia A. Despite the quick dismissals of Tahlia McGrath (7) and Sammy-Jo Johnson (6), the visitors managed to keep a healthy run-rate. Once Burns joined Villani, with Australia A’s score at 66 for 2 in the ninth over, the pair inflicted further damage on England Academy’s attack. They shared a rapid 40-run stand before Villani was dismissed by Linsey Smith.

 

Burns however continued to find the boundary on her way to a 37-ball 54. She helped Australia A add 66 runs in 34 balls towards the back end of the innings.

 

Alice Davidson-Richards bowled impressively for the hosts, conceding only 20 runs in her spell of four overs while also picking up the wicket of Johnson. Lauren Bell (2-25) and Smith (1-46) were the other wicket-takers.

 

England Academy’s chase began promisingly as Bryony Smith smashed a 21-ball 11, including 13 runs off Maitlin Brown’s opening over. Her dismissal in the third over did little to slow the hosts’ charge as Sophia Dunkley picked up the mantle. The right-hander made her first impact with the bat in the series, finally scoring a half-century. Her 37-ball 50 included seven boundaries, and kept England Academy in the hunt.

 

When Dunkley fell to Burns with the score at 112 for 5 in 13.5 overs, the hosts still had a realistic chance of getting over the line with Davidson-Richards and in-form Maia Bouchier in the middle. Australia A, however, chose that moment to begin to tighten the screws. They chipped away at the wickets and caused the required rate to soar.

 

Amanda Wellington and Sammy Johnson picked up two wickets each as England Academy slumped to 137 for 7 in 17 overs. 

 

Despite Villiers’ incredible cameo at the back end, it was too little too late, for the hosts as they crashed to their fifth straight defeat against Australia A.