First T20 – As expected they had sold out of tickets as the ladies were on before the Aussie men played India and they were using the fixture to generate awareness. But when I wandered back after finding some lunch hoping I might be able to blag my way in, I spotted the parents of one of the team who said that many of the players tickets were not being used and managed to get in contact with someone and got me one! Fantastic – so I was in for both the ladies and the men’s 20 over a side games.
Unfortunately, despite taking regular aussie wickets, their total was a bit much for our team, especially once two of our key batsmen were out and we fell 21 runs short at the end of our 20 overs. During the ladies game, the crowd had built steadily in preparation for a much hyped game between the aussies and india, especially given all the controversy there has been through this series. I think this all helped to make our batsmen nervous and by the time the men took the field the noise was close to deafening. As the Indian wickets started to fall, the noise got louder and louder, but as the artificial light took over from natural light, also chillier. As a bit of a shouting/slanging match started between indians and two groups of aussies in the approx 20 rows between us and the front, we decided to take our leave and watch the aussie innings in our respective accommodation. Needless to say the aussies rapped it all up with their customary efficiency, and although the fans must be pleased they won, they could also feel rather short changed!
Next it was back to the MCG for the first of the one day games where each side gets 50 overs. However, as all the stuff I had seen said it was a half ten or later start I went out looking for breakfast. By the time I got my lunch organised and up to the game, they were 20 odd overs through, having lost a batsman already, but with some stubborn batting on a seemingly very slow pitch we got to what we considered to be a decent score, but not completely sure just how slow the pitch really was. As the aussies fell over 50 runs short the pitch was definitely slow, but with our opening bowlers managing to put pressure on early, one of their key batsmen struggled, we got a couple of stunning catches and got them all out for a confidence boosting win.
ODI2 So it couldn’t last – the Aussies batted first and with two of our key batsmen getting ducks (zero) it was always going to be a hard task, and they fell behind the run rate and then the wickets started going. One of the players fathers wanted us to get far enough that we would have beaten them by more yesterday than they beat us today, but even that was too much to ask in the end.
Thursday was the third of the one day games, so I got directions up to the central bus station to find out which was the correct bus out to Drummoyne, found the stop and some lunch. I even managed to get off about the right place – up one block and left two. However on my way down towards the green-ness at the bottom of the road, an Aussie asked if I was going to the cricket ‘cos it had been called off! I wandered down to find out why and there was nobody around but some groundstaff when another car turned up with another English shirt wearing person to find out they had turned up and decided that the ground wasn’t fit. Looked like they hadn’t even prepared a pitch to me!
Yesterday was the fourth one day game and the Aussies won the toss and chose to bat for the England captains 100th game. With the Aussie skipper and one of their openers both getting half centuries it was not looking good for us, but a good England bowling performance to tie the Aussies down and then bowl them out in less than their 50 overs gave us hope. We lost both of out opening batters within 6 runs, but this brought the two best and most experienced batters to the crease, and but for an unfortunate run-out just a couple of overs before the end, they saw us all the way through, Claire Taylor getting 56 and the skipper Charlotte Edwards 70 not out. We were ahead in the series again and with only one game to go, could not loose the series.
So we were all back this morning, and again they elected to bat. This time a more rounded performance by their batters, with 4 batters getting decent scores including 2 half centuries. Our bowlers did really well towards the end to get all but one of their batters out, but they managed to get past 200. Again we lost a couple of early wickets, but unfortunately Tails and Lottie could not replicate yesterdays great stand with regular wickets falling through the afternoon as the team tried to keep up with the chase and we were all out 41 runs short. So the series was tied and our team were disconsolate, despite each time getting ahead of the Aussies in the series and being not credited with a chance before the tour started. All good preparation for the World Cup happening in Oz in early 2009.
TEST – the ground at Bowral that was bathed in sunshine and looked a picture ready for the game the following day, before making my way over to the place I was staying in the next village 8 km away. Time to wander across the road to the oldest continuously licensed pub in oz for dinner and a shandy before unpacking in what seemed like a very cold place.
The next morning I went straight to the ground to bag a couple of the benches I had seen the night before and blagged a cup of tea from the England dressing room! Unfortunately there had been quite a lot of rain in the night, so benches were a good idea as the grass took a while to dry out. Lottie looked very smart in her blazer as she went out for the toss, having not won one all tour apparently… We couldn’t see but she won and on the local TV that evening you could see the small arm pump to celebrate winning what seemed like an important toss. She put the Aussies in, as was evidenced by Rollie signalling to her team by miming a forward defensive shot. The Aussies had changed from whites for their team photo to training strip and now changed back again for the anthems of each country complete with guard of honour provided by the local primary school who then got to watch a few overs of Shawsie (VC) and Isa making early inroads into the Aussie batting, leaving them 3 wickets down at lunch. There was a 50run partnership going at tea, however both were run out after tea and the innings was all over for 154 runs, leaving our openers an awkward 16 overs to bat through, which they did without loss.
Day 2 dawned as damp in the air, even if there had not been much rain overnight, and we lost our openers in over 7 & 8 of the day, bringing our most successful batters, who had built a match winning partnership at the first one-dayer in Sydney. It wasn’t fast scoring stuff, putting on another 50 before the lunch interval, but then they both prospered in the afternoon session, adding almost 100 runs and more importantly both staying out in the middle. Unfortunately, after tea things got a little harder and the impact was felt of batting for most of the day when they don’t normally get to play anything longer than one day games where each team gets to bat for about 3 hours. Lottie was first out, agonisingly short of her century for 94, falling about 15 runs short of a record 3rd wicket stand (not sure if just against England or all teams) and Tails followed 25 overs later. The Aussie spinners were making the most of the conditions taking 3 of the 5 wickets to fall in less than 30 overs. Suddenly the prospect of being able to win the game without having to bat last on a wicket taking spin were dashed, but we still had a lead of almost 70 with 3 wickets left.
England team pic
Day 3 continued the English summer theme, if only we had our English summer wardrobe rather than the Australian one – the team was not even issued with sweaters! We all just wanted our team to be in a good situation for when the supporters had been invited to the team hotel that evening. The tail did a good job at delaying the inevitable and eventually we were all out for 244 – a lead of 90, and the Aussies had to face an awkward session of 8 overs before lunch. Again, Isa made the breakthrough, in the last over before lunch and then another 2 wickets in the 6th over after lunch and the Aussies were 34 for 3 wickets, still some way behind. Shelley, who had been a thorn in our side at the first test in 2005 at Brighton combined with their vice captain Shakie, to put a 100 run stand together, followed by Shakie with Kate after Shelley was caught and bowled by the youngest England test player Holly and at the end of the day, they had a lead of 100 with 6 wickets left and Shakie had passed Lottie’s 94. The evening social will be remembered for the slowest food service in the world, which left the England skipper eating after 10pm -however some of the Aussie team were experiencing similar levels of mis-service in the restaurant!
Day 4 looked brighter, but for the supporters, the breeze which had blown across the ground straight into our faces the day before giving me windburn (again!), made the day chilly. However, we were all in jubilant spirits with as many bits of England stuff hanging around our position as we could, and we were rewarded with the early wicket of Shakie, also missing her century, at 98 in the 4th over of the day and wickets continuing to fall every 5 overs or so until they declared about 40 minutes before lunch – either to give us that awkward period of play before lunch, or to stop Isa getting her 10-fer!
So 142 to win. Again the openers made it through that period of play to lunch, although unfortunately Shaggie fell in the first over after lunch when I was still in the Bradman museum (Don Bradman made his first century on the ground and lived in a house opposite the ground). Tails to the wicket again, with the strategy seeming to be for her to score at 2 an over (what we needed) whilst Beth anchored at the other end. If that was the strategy, it came to a end when Beth was caught very close to the wicket by Kate and as Lottie had taken a tumble in the field to her already fragile knees, it was Lydia in next. A quick fire 26 made up somewhat for her disappointment of a duck in the first innings, but at 92 for 3 we only needed 50 more. Squirt came out next and took another dozen off the required runs, so by the time Lottie made it to the middle (not having been too nervous to watch for much of the innings) we only needed 21 more. Despite seeming to hog the strike, perhaps wanting to hit the winning runs – not undeserving – it was Tails who scored the necessary boundary to win the game and retain the Ashes.
Celebrations all round, before and after the presentation ceremony, where Isa got Man of the Match, of course, and then had to say a few words, much to her surprise and embarrassment.
MoM has to speak, sorry
Then the presentation of the ashes trophy – which does contain ashes, although not as old as the mens – and time for the bubbles to flow, shame they were beer not champers bubbles, but that didn’t stop the team from drenching the skip with it. By the time she congratulated the supporters, we all smelt of beer!
Lottie and final scoreboard