England team celebrating a wicket. ©Getty Images

England has been criticised for their conservative selection during the multi-format Ashes series. The same familiar faces have underperformed across each of the formats. Australia has shown the way with intelligent selection. With the series long gone it gave England the opportunity to give a debut to Mady Villiers, the Essex off-spin bowler. It also saw their first win of the series – by 17 runs.

England had used a lot of spinners during the ICC World T20 in 2018. Villiers, who wasn’t a part of that setup, showed she wasn’t afraid of the big stage. There are few bigger names than Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy. Both Australian batters struggled to dominate Villiers.

Villiers’ second ball was struck back hard at her from the bat of Healy, who was on 25 at the time. The drop did not cost England too much, though. In the off-spinner’s next over Healy holed out to long off for 28 off 30 balls. Four balls later she had her second wicket. Like Healy, Ashleigh Gardner could not resist going after the rookie bowler and was out of her ground when Amy Jones took a smart stumping. The debutant eventually finished with figures of 2 for 20.

Earlier, Ecclestone, brought on inside the power play, achieved something that England bowlers have only dreamt of and got the prized wicket of Meg Lanning. It was the first time that the Australian captain had been dismissed in a T20I after 335 runs. Ecclestone finished with 3 for 22 and does not seem to be ready to give up her crown as England’s premier spinner. 

The run-rate started to creep up, the boundaries were increasingly more difficult to come by. Australia had not found the boundary between the fourth and the eleventh over.

Perry helped herself to another 50 bringing up the landmark in 45 balls. She finished on an unbeaten 60. It was in vain though with the required run-rate at more than two-a-ball. England limited the boundaries and just as importantly the twos.

England, put in to bat first, shuffled their batting order as Tammy Beaumont was elevated to open with Danni Wyatt, pushing Amy Jones down the order. While Wyatt had got off to a fast start, Beaumont had been quiet in contrast. The duo added 28 for the opening wicket, which was England’s best in the series. The hosts also raced to 40-2 at the end of the Powerplay – again their best in the series.

There is one bowler you cannot sweep in the Australian attack. Tayla Vlaeminck showed why with her second ball as Natalie Sciver sliced a catch to third-man for five. Clearly, she was done for pace. Then Heather Knight, in the company of Amy Jones, started to bat well. Jones was perhaps relieved not to be facing Perry and she used her feet to good effect hitting Georgia Wareham out of the attack.

The partnership of 38 came to an end when Knight was run out for the second time in three innings. Jones followed the next over. It was down to the Yorkshire pair of Lauren Winfield and Brunt to get England up to a competitive total on a pitch that wasn’t as easy as it first looked.

They managed to score 43 runs from the last four overs and a total that never looked enough became defendable. Together they added 55 for the fifth wicket. Winfield finished unbeaten on 26 and proving again to be a solid player in the middle-order.

This was nothing more than a consolation win for England. They sit comfortably second place to Australia but this result will give them hope for the future and maybe even the decision to give new players a go.