Australia’s Southern Stars have plundered the Emerald Isle, winning their 3-match T20 series 3-0 in the kind of style that should make England very worried indeed as the Women’s Ashes recommence in Chelmsford on Wednesday.
Meg Lanning (43 off 38 balls in the 1st T20), Ellyse Perry (55* off 46 balls in the 3rd T20) and Elyse Villani (80 off 53 balls in the 3rd T20) all found some form with the bat.
The biggest revelation though was Grace Harris. The 21-year-old Queenslander made her debut in this series and bagged a 2-ball duck in the 1st T20. In the 2nd, coming in with 2.3 overs to go, she soon found herself on the wrong end of an on-field talking-to from vice-captain Alex Blackwell for not pushing a second run.
A response was needed… and boy did Harris respond: by hitting the first 4 balls of the final over for 4 consecutive 4s. Then in the last T20, pushed up the order to 3, she smashed 39 off just 21 balls, as Australia posted a near-record 186. Harris’ final innings left her with a series-leading Strike Rate of 193; and doubtless had England’s coaching staff scrambling around looking for plans on how to bowl to her – they are going to need them!
As for Ireland, they were well-beaten, but not totally embarrassed. Australia are the World Champions for a reason, and while the Irish maintain their official ODI status, they are really more at home in English county cricket, where they finished mid-table in this season’s Division 1 T20 Cup. Their big goal is next year’s World T20 in India, for which they seek to qualify later this year, and it will be something of a surprise if they fail to do so.
The big worry for Ireland however has to be what happens when they lose their county championship games, following the introduction of the Super League, in 2017. They have their own recently instituted Super 3s of course; but without the genuinely competitive environment which the county championship offers, they are likely to suffer going forwards.
One hope must be that some of the younger players, like promising 17-year-old leg-spinner Elena Tice, make it to Super League; but that offers its own dilemmas for Ireland – Tice was born in Basingstoke and any success she finds in Super League might just end-up with her crossing the Irish Channel on a more permanent basis.