There is something about England that makes them do things the hard way. Their ICC World Cup win was achieved after losing the first match at Derby to India, meaning that every game from then on was a must-win game. That was a similar feeling to their win at Coffs Harbour in the third Commonwealth Bank Ashes ODI, which they won by 20 runs on the Duckworth/Lewis method.
Already four points down to Australia, a win for the hosts would have seen them needing only two more points from a possible ten. Heather Knight won the toss as she had done on Thursday, but this time chose to bat. It’s what England do best, and with the weather unlikely to play a significant part in play Knight confidently chose to ask the home side to the field.
Things didn’t get off to the greatest of starts as Lauren Winfield was trapped in front lbw off the bowling of Ellyse Perry for a ten-ball duck. England started to rebuild and with the steady Tammy Beaumont and the gradually confident batting, we have come to expect of Sarah Taylor.
These two have batted in similar situations since Taylor’s return to the team, and on a good track for batting it was no surprise that both would reach the fifties, and together helping set a new second wicket partnership in ODIs for England against Australia with 122 before Taylor cutting at a wide ball from Megan Schutt found Jess Jonassen at point for 69 off just 66 balls.
It brought in the England captain who was able to set herself and with help of Beaumont made sure that the runs continued to flow. Beaumont was smartly stumped off the keeping of Alyssa Healy after the England player overbalanced trying a paddle sweep too many and getting a bottom edge that Healy reacted quickest to and flicked the ball onto the stumps.
Beaumont’s 74 was one of three fifties in the England innings as the middle and lower order perished around Knight whose 88 not out from 80 balls ensured that England was able to post their highest ever score against Australia in an ODI.
Only Fran Wilson may feel aggrieved about her wicket as replays suggested that like Knight in the previous game had got some bat on a decision that was adjudged lbw.
Megan Schutt was again the pick of the Australian bowlers and with figures of 4 for 44 was the only Australian bowler to go for under five runs an over.
As in the previous game, there was rain during the interval. If anything, it slowed the outfield slightly, although it was hard to tell with the intent that Healy showed in an aggressive knock that should have been all over when she was on four. The usually dependable Wilson shelled what for her was an easy catch.
Healy didn’t look back and reached her half-century from just 44 balls. She was ably supported by Nicole Bolton who was more watchful and allowed Healy to attack with freedom. It appeared that the game was getting away from England when more rain came. It meant that Australia was set for a target of 278 from 48 overs.
The run-rate required never seemed to dip, and whereas England was able to steadily up theirs throughout their Innings, Australia’s seem to stutter. It was in part due to tight disciplined bowling from England.
They never seemed to panic, where most thought the game was slipping away, the bowlers stuck to their plans and like so often this year strangled their opposition in the middle overs. Jenny Gunn with her variations in pace, and with Nat Sciver also keeping the boundaries at bay, it allowed Alex Hartley to pick up the important wickets of Healy for 71, and Elyse Villani for just 8.
As the run-rate started to rise, the Australian batters were suddenly forced to look for bigger shots that were gratefully accepted by the England fielders, whose catching hasn’t always been as good as they would have hoped for.
With some momentum swinging back England’s way, they will be looking forward to the day/night test match at the North Sydney Oval at the start of next month. They will be aware that if Australia were to win that match the Ashes will stay in Australia. Then again that is the sort of position that England of late have thrived on, meaning that it should be as good a spectacle as you are likely to see in women’s cricket, if not for the fact that test cricket is so rare.