Women’s Ashes Test Day 1 – England Lose The Key

They know their farming down in Somerset – agriculture still makes up a significant proportion of the local economy, and “I’ve got a brand new combine harvester, and I’ll give you the key” by The Wurzels is the official team song of the Western Storm, the KSL side based here in Taunton.

So they’ll likely be familiar too with the expression to “bet the farm” on something; but if not… well, it’s pretty-much what England did today – they bet the farm on spin, selecting not just the more attacking left-arm spin options of Sophie Ecclestone and Kirstie Gordon, but the also the containing off-spin of Laura Marsh, while leaving the seam of Kate Cross gathering dust in the shed.

That was their first mistake. Cross might not have taken the most wickets of England’s bowlers this summer, but she has often looked their most likely to take a wicket – there’s been that feeling when she’s been bowling that “something” might happen… and boy did England need “something” as play drifted towards a close today.

England’s second mistake was arguably more forgivable – they lost the toss! This put all the cards in Australia’s hands – their long batting lineup is their real strength, and opting to bat first gave them the chance to dictate the pace of the game, which they did with increasingly mechanical efficiency, losing just 1 wicket as they ground-out 150 runs in the two sessions after lunch.

England had no answer.

Their spinners toiled for 64 overs, taking 2-167; while their seamers got through 36 overs, finishing with 1-92. Neither particularly great returns, though for what it’s worth (which isn’t much) the seamers were the more economical, by half a run an over.

Truth be told, they actually weren’t that bad, some careless fielding aside; but Australia were just clinically good, with only the out-of-sorts Nicole Bolton failing to pass 50.

Australia finished the day on 265-3. Having scored 100-odd in each of the first two sessions, Ellyse Perry and Rachel Haynes were happy to take the evening session at their leisure, scoring just 64 between tea and the close – the game was done by then; the Ashes basically won – it will take a miracle for England to win the match from here, and the Aussies know it. The weather forecast for tomorrow is terrible, and it’s little better for Saturday – there’s simply no time for England to take the 7 + 10 more wickets they need and score the 500-odd runs they’d require in-between.

Is there a “glass half full” scenario for England? If the forecasters have got it completely wrong, and we get 3 more full days, they could bowl Australia out tomorrow morning, bat aggressively for a day and a half to pile-on 500, and then try to bowl them out again on the final day, leaving them a small (or even no) target to chase at the death on Sunday.

Stranger things have happened; but it doesn’t feel terribly likely.

England haven’t got a brand new combine harvester – they’ve got a rusty old one… and they’ve lost the key.

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5 thoughts on “Women’s Ashes Test Day 1 – England Lose The Key

  1. ….. or put another way England have lost all 4 of the days played so far in this series, and quite badly in each case. At least if it rains all day tomorrow England will stop the rot and share the spoils – well every cloud has a silver lining.

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    • Yes I wish the rain and abandoned matches had come in this series and not the Windies one. England are so far behind Aussies now. How has that happened since 2017 – that’s a question the management will need to answer after England have finally been put out of their misery in this series. They just can’t compete tactically or mentally at the moment and it’s a shame to see.

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  2. Cross is unlucky not to be playing considering her good form recently and previous Test showings. However I disagree about the toss, given the weather incoming England needed to bowl first, so Australia played into our hands really. But it didn’t matter because we saw a very average bowling display by England. Plenty of loose balls, sloppy fielding and not enough pressure built up on the batsmen. Brunt and Eccles were good in patches but England couldn’t sustain any pressure built up. Gordon did quite well considering her debut though.

    Australia started quite aggressively but dug in and ground it out near the end. I thought they could have taken more risks considering they were only 3 down and might only get another day and a half to win. Still it might be enough the way things are going for England, but if it is a draw I think Aus could have pushed it more today – A team in total dominance like that who claim to play ruthless cricket.

    This was the day England’s lost Ashes was finally confirmed though, and they are a long way from being anywhere near being able to get them back for years to come I’m afraid.

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  3. I always say it’s usually difficult to tell who’s leading a Test match until about 5 wickets down in the third innings. That’s one of the joys of Test cricket, and although North Sydney was great entertainment, it never even got that far.

    Here in Oz, the media is reporting along the following lines:

    – Perry is a cricketing phenomenon (which we all knew already);

    – the England spinners were bowling really well (on the first day);

    – Lanning had a lot of luck with the umpiring.

    So let’s see what happens on the second day – hopefully not too much rain …

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  4. An enjoyable day out, despite England’s travails. It’s not always easy to assess how well a team is bowling when you’re at the ground (particularly if, like us, you’re sitting square of the wicket). However, I thought England did everything they could. Yes, the odd bad ball – which is inevitable across 100 overs – but generally we kept Australia under control, particularly once Healy had been dislodged.

    The problem was that Australia were quite happy to be kept under control for the most part. Under no pressure to win the game they were content to shut out any chance of England doing so. It was perhaps contrary to their stated intention (pah!) of being positive and doing everything to win the game, but I doubt they will care.

    I’m probably being churlish, even naïve, but as a paying punter I was disappointed with their approach in the last session. At 203-3 I think they had England right where they wanted them. They had two options – brick wall it, and demoralise us that way, or come out positively and look to run us ragged in the field. Either way would have flattened England further, but the latter would have (a) put Aus in a better position to win the game (bearing in mind the weather), (b) entertained the crowd, and (c) sent a message, as they say, about the way women’s Test cricket can be played.

    Australia have made much play before the game of their wider duty to showcase Test cricket (this from Megan Schutt for starters – https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2019/jul/18/why-womens-test-cricket-must-become-more-regular-and-widespread). They were in a no-lose position to be able to do that yesterday. I think they missed a real chance to so.

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