It was all going so well. Tammy Beaumont had gorgeously clipped the first ball of the innings off her legs, through to the midwicket boundary for 4.
This was the England we had come to see – bold, brash and beautiful.
The hope was becoming expectation.
And then it wasn’t.
It wasn’t even hope any more.
Just existential dread as first Jones… then Beaumont… then Taylor… then Knight all went in the first 6 overs, as Schutt and Perry between them humbled England’s top order. The ball that got Taylor was an absolute “beaut” as the Aussies themselves say; but both Jones and Beaumont got themselves out.
And Knight? Well, the England captain clearly felt hard-done-by in the moment – making the “T” DRS review gesture as she walked back to the pavilion, presumably feeling she’d hit it, as it was clearly dead in front. It was a protest that was DOA, however, as there is no DRS in this series – a decision which came more sharply into focus a few minutes later with Fran Wilson.
Wilson swung at a ball from Perry and got a bottom edge which was taken behind the stumps. “Not Out” said the umpire, and that was that. But if DRS had been in place, there is every likelihood that it would have seen Wilson sent back two overs before she was eventually dismissed, by another controversial decision which set people asking why DRS was not being used, as she was given out “Glove” Before to Jess Jonassen.
The answer, we understand, is financial – full DRS is expensive, with much more kit and caboodle required to meet the minimum standards for player referrals, compared with what is needed for umpire referrals for run-outs and stumpings.
Sky, finding themselves under fire on Twitter as the “host broadcaster”, were quick to point the finger at the host board as the ones who had actually made the decision not to spend the money; but the ECB perhaps can be defended on this one. There is only a limited amount of budget, and the minimum standards required by the ICC for international series mean you can’t just use the “normal” TV pictures, even when the decision is a howler of Molly Weasley proportions! (And if you want to complain about that, complain to the ICC not the ECB.)
It is easy to forget that as recently as 10 years ago, Ashes internationals were still being played at club grounds in front of crowds of literally tens! (Okay… the match at Stratford in 2009 wasn’t technically part of “The Ashes” at that point in history, but still…) So while we are not quite flying “First Class”, the fact that we are flying “Business”, with full TV coverage in front of crowds which break 4-figures even on a “school” night, is easy to overlook.
And as we’ve said, it wouldn’t have saved England anyway – Wilson would have been out two overs earlier, and even if she hadn’t been, the damage was already done at 19-4 – that was the ball game, from 6 overs in. The rest? It wasn’t quite a formality – Nat Sciver’s efforts with the bat had insured England had something to bowl at, and bowl at it they did. To come within 2 wickets of victory was a fine effort from them with the ball, but at the end of the day all the Australians needed to do was park the bus just long enough to get away with the loot, and that’s exactly what they did – 2-0 Australia!