Women’s Ashes Test Day 2 – Women’s Test Cricket Needs A Favour!

Outside the makeshift “press box” in one of the larger hospitality suites in the pavilion at Taunton, there is a framed poster memorialising Somerset’s great undefeated season of 1890 – 13 matches; 12 wins; 1 tie.

Apart from the fascinating array of moustaches supported by the players, one thing that leaps out at you is that all-bar-one of those matches – proper First Class games, of two innings per side – were played over just two days.

So there is precedent here in Somerset for winning a match in the time frame remaining to England in this Women’s Ashes Test… but after Australia’s approach to play today, it doesn’t look like they will be given the chance.

Australia are of course under no obligation to give them that opportunity – they are professional athletes, charged with retaining The Ashes, and that is exactly what they are doing.

You have to feel sorry for the England players out there this morning though – even the wicket of Ellyse Perry elicited little celebration, because England knew in their hearts it was unlikely to make any difference to the outcome of this match, or the destiny of this series.

And to be fair, England would probably be doing exactly the same thing. Indeed, they may find themselves doing so by Sunday – they won’t want to lose any more than Australia do, and they will happily grind out a draw if that is the alternative to defeat.

But nonetheless, for the love of all that is holy, you have to wish someone would try to make a game of it – offer up a sporting declaration, opening up the possibility of turning it into a contest someone might actually want to watch on the final day.

They wouldn’t be doing themselves any favours; but they’d be doing women’s Test cricket a solid… and boy does it need it after today.

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15 thoughts on “Women’s Ashes Test Day 2 – Women’s Test Cricket Needs A Favour!

  1. Instead of your usual wistful thoughts, perhaps write about the fact the pitch is another tedious flat disgrace, how England should be playing these games on fast, bouncy pitches, ala the WACA in 2013/14, instead of these woeful draw fest pitches England seem to ask for.

    And why are we picking a team that can’t win? Where are our 20 wickets, what is Robinson doing to improve fitness, why aren’t the players energetic, even on morning one? Feeble.

    Instead of the silly questions about Australia making a game of it, maybe ask some proper questions about why England aren’t a chance of winning and what they are doing to improve it.

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    • From the perspective of someone who was there yesterday…

      Why would England ask for a “draw fest” pitch? They need to win the Test to stand any chance of reclaiming the Ashes.

      It seems to me they’ve gambled the house on the thinking that if Aus won the toss they would bat, and that would make it almost impossible for England to win, given Aus’s clear superiority. So they’ve put all their eggs in the “win the toss and bat” basket, stacking the side with spinners for the fourth innings in the hope that would bring the scales as level as possible and make it a scrap they could come out on top of. It’s a 50/50 gamble that went awry at 10.30 yesterday, but I can see why they did it.

      I don’t see the pitch as a “tedious, flat disgrace” at all, and I haven’t heard anybody else describe it in those terms. The fact is that England haven’t been able to penetrate Australia largely because, Healy apart, Australia have played a safety first game, keeping wickets intact at all costs. I doubt a fast, bouncy pitch would have made much difference. If anything it would have played into Aus’s hands had they been bowling first with Vlaeminck, Perry and Schutt, and hindered England’s plans for winning the toss.

      Why are we playing a team that cant win? I think we’ve picked the best team (or pretty close to the best team) for our strategy. I’m really not sure what I would have done differently. I might concede your point about fitness a bit, but I didn’t see much wrong with the attitude yesterday.

      As a long-term reader of CH, I’ve seen Syd and Raf question England’s long-term planning plenty of times. Legitimately so. They may well do so again, once the Ashes are lost, as they surely will be On this occasion, they have every right to question Australia’s approach, given the rarity and significance of Women’s Test cricket. Every time the Ashes Test comes around, it seems the players are fighting not just to win a match but to justify the very fact that the match is happening in the first place. Australia made a lot of that before the game (as I commented btl on yesterday’s piece) and so far have failed to live up to that talk.

      On the other hand, they are, of course, on track to retain their trophy and have every right to defend the way they are going about it.

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      • Three wickets on day one, where is the penetration? Who looked threatening? When did Laura Marsh last rip through a batting line up? What is the evidence that we are going to take wickets when we didn’t take any in the last test two years ago?

        Mel Jones was highly critical of a prestigious match being played on a used pitch, and England appear to have picked a team accordingly. Why not play George, Davies, Cross, try something different to what we did when Perry got a double hundred on a flat pitch last time around?

        The irony of course is that Australia’s spin attack will now probably bowl us out twice as we have to try and get 600 in a day and a session to even have a faint chance to win, if we even try.

        It just baffles me to read an article asking a professional team to make a sporting declaration when they have a trophy to retain.

        I believe England have much more about them than this performance is showing and I believe that is what should be questioned, these are professional players and coaches and I wonder how long Robinson and Knight can ride the crest of the 2017 wave without being held accountable.

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    • We ask those questions all the time, but it’s not all about negativity on England, thanks. The last Test win 5 years ago was a bit of a shock, and we’ve not looked like winning one since, so this isn’t as surprising as you make out. We’re not letting the Aussies get away clean without a bit to think about themselves either…

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      • Exactly, the one we won we went toe to toe with their girls, and beat them at their own game. Since then we have had to endure pitches like Canterbury, North Sydney and Taunton, why not gamble on playing on something that suits Shrubsole and Brunt rather than totally nullifying them?

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  2. There is nothing wrong with being professional but there is something wrong the claptrap we hear from captains (and yes we heard it from both Knight and Lanning) about promising to play positive cricket. If 2.58 runs per over is positive cricket I certainly hope I never have to watch non-positive cricket. The circumstances are irrelevant – don’t make promises you never intend to keep.
    Specifically if you are 300 odd for 3 and are still plodding along you certainly can’t blame the match situation or the pressure your batsmen are under for your non-positive approach.

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  3. It was a largely unsatisfactory day. England hardly looked improved, nor any more likely to take wickets; Australia hardly bothered about pushing the game on, declaring and setting about taking 20 England wickets either. With the rain about they’ve put pressure on themselves to bowl well now, and must declare overnight or ASAP in the morning.

    Very slow approach from Australia – given they were so far ahead of the game, many more risks could and should have been taken. Australia have indicated by their arrogance and swagger they consider themselves more than merely a “professional team”, rather the pre-eminent women’s side, top of the world and looking to dominate and crush all opposition. Their timid approach so far is just not in keeping with that attitude.

    Bear in mind also that England are hardly used to having to find the magic unplayable ball to manufacture wickets – we have no equivalent of Jimmy Anderson or Jofra Archer – most wickets come from run rate pressure and mistakes by batsmen resulting from that. But that dynamic is not really there in Test cricket, which is why I believe the multi-day format should be built from the bottom-up in women’s cricket rather than top down (starting with more Tests). The domestic structure really needs to be in place first.

    As to Steve’s questions about the lack of performance in this series – the fallout is sure to come, and that time will be after the 3rd iT20 I suspect. This series has been worse than 2015, which was a new low at the time. It’s not good enough, and none of us pretend it is. Robinson came in and improved things after 2015, but it’s looking like Australia are further away now, not closer. So he’s not been able to sustain the initial success to the long-term.

    I’ve been asking for player changes immediately, but the management don’t want to bring in the new generation yet. It’s plainly obvious that Davies, Bell, Villiers, Lamb, B.Smith, L. Smith, Dunkley and George, at least, should all be part of the setup already, to a greater extent than they currently are. They should be gearing up with some experience under their belts. It might result in a lean couple of initial years, but such things come with a changing of the old guard.There’s no better time, seeing as back-to-back World Cup winning isn’t really a thing. The current contract system is too inflexible for the needs of the the England side in 3 international formats.

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  4. It was obvious after the toss, Australia would bat, and bat, and bat etc.
    And they win the series. Flat pitch, no danger bowlers. Tough for England, but the damage had been done before the test. It needs a re shuffle and re build, over to you Mr Robinson.

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    • Not necessarily win, but definitely draw, or sit dormy. They only need to draw the series to keep the Ashes. If they make the Test a safe draw they can go all out, pretty much fearlessly, to see what they can do in the T20is.

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      • I haven’t seen much “fearlessness” from Australia so far this series. If they were they’d be trying for 250 or at least 200. Will we see an attempt at least, I wonder.

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  5. My last comment on the pitch and the team selection.

    Australia in their last 10 Ashes Test innings have declared 7 times and were unbeaten in a run chase in one. They have been bowled out but England just twice in that time, in the same game in Perth.

    So I’ll ask again, why not prepare a fast bouncy pith and why not play the Aussies at their own game. And why not, just for fun, pick bowlers who look like they can beat the bat or bowl a wicket taking delivery…

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    • Fast bouncy pitches can’t easily be prepared at Taunton these days. England should play at Trent Bridge to get that sort of wicket. It’s something else I’ve advocated for, but the management only want to play on the same grounds using the same players, not really suited to them, unfortunately.

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      • That was my point sorry, not that Taunton could have done better, but that we should be picking grounds that give us a better chance than places like Canterbury or Taunton have. They have draw written all over them unless we go back to 5 day tests.

        But at least a fresh pitch might have been better than a used one!

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