Last week I posed four big questions ahead of the Ashes Test match. Now that Test cricket is – sadly – behind them for another two years, did England find any answers?
1. What is their best Test XI?
Mark Robinson’s big call was to not only select Georgia Elwiss ahead of Jenny Gunn, but to bat her at 4, a position she’s never before occupied in her England career. At a crucial time for England, she came good. Her unbeaten 41 was, in my book, even more impressive than Knight’s own stoic effort – Elwiss was under more pressure (she must have known she was playing for her place in the side), and much rustier, having played no international cricket at all over the past 12 months. It’s perhaps too early to say whether she’s done enough to retain her place for the foreseeable future, but you’d have to conclude that she’s put herself back in strong contention.
Would having Gunn in the side have made any difference to the result? Probably not. Her great talent is bowling for long periods very economically, but that wasn’t really the issue here – England managed to restrict the Australian run rate reasonably successfully. What they really needed was wickets, and it’s difficult on this pitch to see Gunn having been much more successful than her counterparts there.
2. Can anyone “do a Heather Knight”?
Yes – sadly her name is Ellyse Perry, and she plays for the opposition (despite my job share suggestion!)
England lost this match by not batting long enough in the first innings. Though Tammy Beaumont and Heather Knight both passed 50, once again none of the England batting line-up could push on to 3 figures. Last week I said that at least two England players would have to get their heads down and dig in, if they were to have any chance of winning this match – that didn’t happen.
Somehow, with the limited opportunities available for multi-day practice before the next Test comes around, England need to resolve this. If they can’t, they aren’t going to win very many Tests!
3. Can they stop Australia batting them out of the game?
Yes, but it was perhaps more down to luck than judgement! England were fortunate enough to win the toss, which prevented the somewhat nightmare scenario of the follow-on rearing its ugly head. Australia then essentially ran out of time to bowl England out. Had Perry arrived at the crease on day one, who knows what might have happened?
4. Can they avoid a draw?
Of course, a draw actually looks like a good result, given what might have happened at the start of day 4! Even better, England have got the Canterbury 2015 monkey off their backs – they didn’t fold, they fought, and there’s no shame at all in the way that they dug in today.
Having said that, I still stick by my belief that it isn’t a good enough result for England. Above all else, it’s going to be very tough mentally for them to go into the T20 leg of the series knowing they have to win all 3 games.
Let’s hope they can prove me wrong!
Having welcomed the multi point format initially I am now not as sure. The 4 point weighting for the test match sets up a “must not lose” scenario for both teams, although as mentioned (by Raf) the Aussies were better equipped to try and win as their batters went on (and on in the case of Ellyse Perry) beyond fifty and more. Is their any mileage for future contests to have two tests? One at the start of the tour and one at the end?
Maybe one of the shorter formats could be sacrificed for an extra test?
It would also be beneficial to have a pitch to help bowlers AND batters, in Sydney it appeared if you wanted to stay in you could, with graft, skill and application.
England showed these attributes but my initial feeling from the outset was that neither side would lose.
However, all is not lost…yet!
Come on Ladies in the T20s!
I am a fan of Test cricket for the men’s and women’s game and I appreciate any batsman who can dig in and frustrate when the need arise or the pitch dictates. Well played Skipper.
I still see MR as a batting coach he has given the top order a boost of freedom in ODI & T20 but I’m not so sure on the bowling and fielding side. The next 3 games will tell us a lot more about the cycle the team is on.
England need to win the first T20 and put the pressure back on the Aussies.
1. Elwiss played well, got a wicket and 60-odd runs and has a very good test average now. She’s a flexible and gutsy player who can perform in any of the 3 formats, bat up or down the order without letting it affect her. Her bowling is a bonus and she can hit the ball well in T20 too. She’s been unlucky in being dropped when not having done much wrong in the past and I feel there’s a lot more she can offer England.
2. Last time I checked it was a draw and England didn’t “lose”! It’s not possible to win *that* many Tests anyway as they only come around every 2 years!
3. I’m not so sure it was such a great toss to win actually. Batting first seemed like the right idea, but the pitch ended up playing better as the game went on. If Australia had batted first, I don’t think they would have made 400+ somehow.
4. It’s not a good enough result, but neither was losing a close 1st ODI or a poor showing in the second. The Test result hasn’t lost England the Ashes any more than those 2 results did…I think we needed a win in the first 2 ODIs, and having failed to get that, we’re always playing catch-up from there on in.