Heading into the multi-format Ashes series there was much chat about Australia’s supremacy on the women’s circuit and how they were fast becoming an unchallengeable force. After sneaking a nerve wracking two wicket win in the first one-day international against England at Grace Road in Leicester on Tuesday (July 2)— courtesy five wides from Katherine Brunt— Australia would have heaved a sigh of relief. They had almost made a hash of what should have been a straightforward chase of 178.
“I think we’ll be happy with a win,” said Alyssa Healy, whose 71-ball 66 laid the foundation in Australia’s chase. “We’ll still sing the team song and cheer the two points, but we’ll be really sick in knowing that we’ve got a little bit of work to do and (need to) reassess our game plan.”
In pursuit of England’s total, Australia were comfortably placed at 92 for 3 in 22 overs with Healy and Rachel Haynes at the crease. They needed 86 runs at 3.07 runs an over with seven wickets in hand. They should have won at a canter— especially with the ball flying off Healy’s bat. However, just as they did with the bat after being reduced to 19 for 4, England fought back in the field.
“I think it was just a very simple play straight sort of a wicket. That was my mindset— it’s my game plan quite a lot and I just look to capitalise on anything full. I thought they bowled really well and came hard at us and never quite let us get the momentum at any point.”
Australia are coming off an extended four month break. Their last international assignment was a three-match ODI series against New Zealand at home that ended on March 3. England, on the other hand, came into the series on a 14-match winning streak that included wins over India, Sri Lanka and West Indies. They were running like a well oiled machine— primed to take down Meg Lanning’s team.
“England have been playing a lot of cricket of late and we haven’t,” said Healy. “We are going to have to start really well and make sure that we find our feet really quickly. Like I said, getting two points early is a huge advantage, but we know England will come out firing. I think it’s going to be one of the closest Ashes series that I have been a part of. There has been a little bit written about us being on top, but I actually think it is going to be a really tight series.”
With a the second ODI on Thursday (July 4) to be played at the same venue, Healy is aware that Australia have a lot to work on.
“We know that we potentially didn’t chase that quite how we would’ve liked and I think we will be very honest in our assessment of how we went about it and hopefully we can come out the better side on Thursday and show what we can do.”
While early points are certainly important for morale, Australia will be aware that this series is all about consistency. They will have to find their ‘A’ game if they want to keep their lead in the series.