21/7/15 – 1st ODI Taunton

Scores just in from the Taunton Jury – Angleterre duex point, L’australie nil point.

England quite rightly took the first two points of a possible 16 on offer for the 2015 Womens Ashes, with England requiring 8 points to retain the Ashes won in Australia here.

Australia won the toss and decided to bat on an overcast day with a nice pitch and a lightening fast outfield, shown when a forward defence from the 4th ball of the day raced to the boundary in front of your correspondent.  Those who know this ground with that description would expect a score above 280, but the Aussies fell well short of a testing score, with their top three falling for 35 inside the first 12 overs, so scoring was by no means brisk. Katherine Brunt from the river end took two wicket maidens getting the wickets of both opening batsmen – Vilani c Edwards and Jonasson bowled – ending with 3-48, and could have had more wickets had the umpire at her end been at all inclined to give an lbw decision in the first over.

Team celebrate Brunt wicket
Team celebrate Brunt wicket

The fourth wicket partnership between allrounding dual international (soccer) Perry and vice-captain and Berkshire overseas player Alex Blackwell stabilised their innings and put on a valuable 121, but took half Australia’s’ allotted overs. It was not without chances – Grundy had a tough return chance off her own bowling from Perry, and Blackwell gave a stumping chance to Sarah Taylor. Blackwell eventually fell in the enforced batting powerplay to a sharp piece of fielding by Englands vice-captain Heather Knight for what was to be the first of four run-outs in the Aussie innings. (By the way nowhere close to a record which stands at 6, four occasions.)

This exposed the aussie lower order and no-one else scored more than 30 (keeper Healy ending 29*) and no partnership greater than 31 as England kept the pressure on, including the other three run-outs. Perry eventually fell to the off-spin of Knight for 78, caught Sciver on the cow-corner boundary rope trying to accelerate in the final 5 overs.

Knight gets Perry c Sciver
Knight gets Perry c Sciver

England started well, again a screaming boundary in the first over, but a quicker ball from Perry took skipper Edwards wicket (the answer to the announcers question of which batsmen has the most ODI runs) for 15. Three more wickets fell before the 20th over, leaving the home side 80-4 and the crowd silenced by some poor shot selection and one piece of excellent aussie fielding Jonasson taking a sharp chance on the second attempt at midwicket to dismiss Jones for 15.

This brought another allrounder, Surrey’s Natalie Sciver, to join England’s sweeping stalwart Lydia Greenway, astoundingly in her 12th international year. Their 122 run stand a contrasting 20 overs and took the game slowly but steadily away from the tourists – too slowly to some in the crowd who wanted many of the singles to be turned into 2’s – but perhaps the experience of the first innings had made the batsmen rightly cautious.
The threat of dark grey clouds brought only a little drizzle and made no interruption to play and both players reached 50, Greenway growing in confidence and aggression, hitting two balls over mid on to go through 50, fell immediately after her 50 when trying to clear Alex Blackwell at extra cover, whose well timed jump allowed her to pluck the ball from the air,  but by now the damage was done, England requiring 36 with more than 8 overs remaining.

50 up for Sciver
50 up for Sciver

Sciver, although man of the match, was dismayed not to finish the job, falling for her highest ODI score of 66, leaving more allrounders – Elwiss and Brunt – to romp home, with the winning margin officially 4 wickets with over 4 overs remaining.

Sciver - man of the match
Sciver – man of the match

So, what have we learnt –

  • that there is a dearth of top order batsmen in the world, with all rounders strong in both sides and both top scores coming from seam bowlers, bowlers scoring 191, keepers 74, batsmen 185 with extras 28.
  • neither sides bowling is particularly penetrating, with errors being the main cause of dismissal
  • both sides had moments of brilliance in the field and some right dross.

onwards to Bristol on thursday… England have first blood, plus some vital world cup qualifying points, plus the momentum!

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