Random Thoughts – Women’s Ashes Test Day 4

Jess Jonassen

Jonassen was named Man of the Match for her knocks of 99 and 54, ahead of Ellyse Perry’s 6-for; and although Perry’s name will be “On The Board” and Jonassen’s won’t, having tantalisingly missed-out on her hundred, it was still the right call because Jonassen really was the difference between the two teams – her innings totalling 153 were 95% of the margin of Australia’s 161-run victory.

Shockers All Round

From an England perspective, there were shockers all round today. In the right conditions earlier in the Test, Brunt and Shrubsole had looked super-human; but this morning with a little bit of sunshine creeping through, they suddenly seemed toothless and England quickly went on the defensive – first moving the field back and then turning full-on negative – calling on the spinners, even though Australia were hardly scoring at a rate faster than at any other point in the match.

When it came to the time to bat and Heather Knight hit the first ball for four, England fans might have allowed themselves a moment of belief; but the overly defensive mindset soon came roaring back in the period before lunch. And actually this could have been fine if (like Alex Blackwell) they had scored at 2/ over and kept their wickets intact; but they didn’t, and ultimately there was probably never going to be a way back after going into lunch 2-down.

Ultimately, no one exactly covered themselves in glory. Knight, Taylor, Edwards and Winfield all failed to deliver. Georgia Elwiss made a very pretty 46 – but unfortunately it was still only 46 – nothing like enough to save the game for England.

England’s Batting Order

You have to ask again about the batting order! Not batting Edwards “up top” means you are more likely to lose an early wicket, which brings in Taylor far too early in the innings, and none-down has become two-down in less time than it takes to make a cup of tea.

I do understand the logic of batting Edwards in a position where she feels more comfortable… but if it just leads to everyone else being more uncomfortable, that probably isn’t a win overall; and so it has proved, twice in the space of 4 days.

Australia Weren’t That Good

Australia will obviously be getting all the plaudits in the mainstream press, but… whisper it… the most depressing thing is that throughout this match, they weren’t actually very good either.

The superstars Lanning and Perry both failed twice with the bat; Perry got 9 wickets in the match, but she wasn’t able to generate much pace with the ball and England largely got themselves out to her. (Overall Schutt bowled better, albeit with less reward.) And ultimately, no Southern Star made more than England’s top scorer (Elwiss, with her 46) except Jonassen, which just emphasises that she really was the difference.

England Aren’t That Bad

If Australia weren’t that good, that can only mean one thing: England were really, really bad, especially with the bat.

And yet they are not a bad team. They can bowl, as we’ve seen; and they can bat, which we haven’t seen here, but we have seen all season, away from the spotlight at county and for the Academy.

Perhaps it is the pressure of that television spotlight that is the key to understanding England’s performance? To mangle a line from Joey in Friends:

England aren’t a bad team… they just seem to play like one on television!

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6 thoughts on “Random Thoughts – Women’s Ashes Test Day 4

  1. I still think the gap between the Aussies is growing as we seem to be playing an inconsistent brand of cricket and players are not expressing themselves. The Aussie support players played more freely and won key phases of a test.

    The pressure to perform will only increase and England have the T20s last chance saloon to avoid a media driven inquiry but whatever happens lessons will have to be learned.

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  2. There’s not much point in criticising Elwiss as well. That’s pure churlishness. I think she played beautifully, and had already run out of partners by the time she was out. The game was already up. You’re kidding yourself to think otherwise. I’m sorry, but Greenway’s been one of England’s few consistent players this summer and Elwiss looked much better than her. In fact, she looked like the best batter in all of England (not that that may be saying too much ! ) for that period between lunch and tea. Most think that Jones and Wilson are just as good if not better. I wonder if there’s some sort of psychological contagion in the dressing room affecting the batters – whenever a players is in the team for more than a few games, they start to play negative, frightened cricket; but Elwiss didn’t catch the bug yet.

    Elwiss would hopefully have won a few fans out there and is just the type of player we need – dynamic, positive and able to do herself justice with bat and ball. Plus she obviously has the type of resolve so lacking amongst many of the other players. You could tell she was absolutely devastated in her post match interview – she really believed England could save the game. What an aboslute Lioness. On top of all that, as a last minute replacement for Gunn I think she did better than we can possibly have expected.

    However well or not Australia played in this game, they are still the best side in world cricket, and by some margin I’d say. One sign of a good side is they do enough to win even when they’re not all performing at their best.

    The claim that it’s just TV which is the issue is problematic on a couple of levels. First it suggests matches should not be televised, which goes against what many have been trying to achieve for years. Secondly it suggests that the players can’t cope with the pressure, which is a skill that comes from either absolute professionalism or having been brought up with it from a younger age. Hence the younger, newer players have an advantage being social media savvy as they are. It wasn’t so long ago that Edwards scored that fine hundred against India at Scarborough – although it wasn’t on TV it was streamed live on Youtube. She looks a different player now. You might not be willing to ask if she’s lost that special something, but some will. She was thoroughly out-thought by Lanning in this game who won nearly all the psychological (and tactical) battles. And she’s a relative novice, albeit a tremendous one. The papers, full of barely un-sexist cricket writers, will not be kind I suspect. Edwards will probably ride this out but it seems like the end of an era, and changes will have to be made. The Sun cricket correspondent is calling some players “passengers”. Will a few players be dropped from their contracts? If they’re not, England may continue to suffer going forward.

    That’s enough ranting. Hopefully the T20 matches will be a bit closer, because all the games so far have been a bit one sided if we’re honest.

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  3. Agree with a lot of the main article. Interesting point from James P. about “psychological contagion” – I really hope not, but it’d explain a lot.

    One thing that is tough but ultimately positive is that there’s a lot of criticism around now – sounds odd, but it’s criticism of England compared to Australia, or to England’s form before the professional contracts, rather than the old “it’s slower than the men, therefore not worth watching” stuff. Partly, of course, because of much better media (including social media – thank you, bloggers!) coverage – we’re starting to get well-reported opinions from people who clearly know their women’s cricket.

    Accountability has been mentioned a fair bit: it remains to be seen what those in charge mean by this, especially if (as seems unfortunately likely) England lose the T20s too.

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