So that’s that for women’s Tests, for another 2 years or thereabouts. Despite being the only team in a theoretical position to win the match this afternoon, Australia were happy to bat-out for a draw on a soporific afternoon in Somerset.
Meg Lanning made no apologies afterwards, telling the press conference that they’d put all their mental chips on enforcing the follow-on, and that once England passed that target, a draw was really the only option on their minds.
Australia certainly could have gone for a win – if they’d declared with around 25 overs remaining, they would have set England a target of around 8 an over – just enough to entice them into having a crack at it.
But Australia decided that was a risk too far, and instead let Ellyse Perry have some red-ball batting practice ahead of her next appearance in whites… in 2021.
Do you blame them? Australia were quick to point out that England had been the ones batting for a draw two years ago and North Sydney Oval; but England then were batting to save the game – Australia were batting to… well… is there even a term for it? Unsave it?
Australia will claim they are the No. 1 side in the world in all 3 formats, and it is probably fair to say that if the last two Tests were boxing title bouts, they’d have won them both “on points”; but they have nonetheless failed to deliver the knockout blow that really settles the argument on each occasion, and have now failed to actually win a Test for 4 years.
Is it fair to criticise them for that?
Maybe not – they did the job they came to do, and you can’t argue with the points tally!
But then you can’t argue with the empty win column either.
And an empty win “on points” is all they’ve achieved here.
Yes the Aussies can just keep telling themselves they’re not secretly a little disappointed with a draw after scoring 400 plus and having a near 150 run first innings lead.
As an England fan this evening I’m rather satisfied with 2 points on the board, and not even having to sweat out an uncomfortable few hours of a second innings batting. That could have seen another collapse. Australia were under no realistic threat of a loss after the first 2 days, and if they had declared early, could have easily stopped the England runs (if by a miracle we got close) at any point by moving fielders wherever they wanted, or bowling wide, bouncers etc. But to not even try was disappointing in my opinion.
They probably could have forfeited their second innings if they wanted to have a real crack at us, or certainly just walloped a quick 100 or so. But no, all that talk of a win was just bluster, and England have really got out of jail. That’s the way I see it anyway. Starting to get more behind this side again now after an encouraging couple of days. Not that it’s saying much, mind you!
Interesting comments from Robinson after the match. He didn’t seem overly worried or concerned about things. Media have been starting to get on the team’s back though and he’ll have some tough questions to answer after next week.
The tough questions were all for the Aussies, interestingly. Even from the Aussie press.
Once the run rate England would have had to get had reached about 10 over I fail to see how Australia had got anything to lose by declaring and bowling at England. Apart from the obvious (like winning the match) there was the opportunity to apply more physiological pressure by taking a few wickets and denting England confidence (perhaps the Aussies don’t feel England have any left) ahead of the T20. Australia’s approach was both ludicrously cautious and illogical.
I suspect that the primary objective in any Ashes series is (a) for the team that holds them to keep the Ashes and (b) for the team that doesn’t hold them to not lose the Ashes series ….. hence a match like today. Why do teams think like this – because who holds the Ashes coming into a series is a relic of something that happened at least 2 years ago (in which even some of the current players played no part); back to the word ‘illogical’. It’s time the women broke with this male led tradition (just as they did with the multi format) and let each team start each series equal (ie zero-zero, not one-zero).
It’s a shame Australia never went for the victory in the end. While I can understand the logic, there wasn’t really any realistic chance England were going to win the game after the second day so why not give yourself a crack at England for 40 overs? You probably won’t win but it’s surely worth giving it a go. Didn’t Alyssa Healy say they wanted to win every game?
There are positives for England. After the Australian first innings, it would have been easy to subside to a 120 all out but there was plenty of fight from the batters and while they were second best, they did enough to earn a draw.
In regards to future tests, I’d like to see two main changes. Firstly, quicker pitches. The last two tests have been too slow, there needs to be more on offer for the pace bowlers. Secondly, the test match should open the multi series format. Putting it after the ODI’s allows the team in front the play for the draw. On both of the last two occasions, had Australia been level rather than ahead, they may have been more inclined to push for a win. As it was, they were almost playing a different game to England.
If you start with the Test you will still have the situation of there being a team in front. As noted in my earlier comment, the holder of the Ashes in effect starts 1-0 up. This is not decrying your proposition though – perhaps the dread of losing 4 points is diminished to a degree if you know there are still 12 rather 6 points to play for.
The match was drawn because of the pitch and the weather. The previous Test was drawn because of the pitch. You can’t really blame the players for either outcome. No future Test captain will ever want to forfeit a Test innings after the furore that eventually erupted after the last forfeit (in a men’s Test). The solution is better pitches (like the WACA 2014 – best women’s Test ever) and more Tests.
Interesting that the Aussies thought they needed 70 overs to bowl England out (Mott). Doesn’t show much confidence in your bowling attack on a 4th day wicket.