Review - Day 4 | Ashes - Only Test | Women's Test cricket - The real winner
Written By: Jeet Vachharajani
Picture Courtesy: Getty Images
The weather gods were kind enough to allow Day 4 to go ahead. Australia resumed the day at 12/2 with a lead of 52 in their bag. The match was hanging in balance after Katherine Brunt took 2 wickets late on Day 3.
Australia cash in on England’s missed chances
The pair of Beth Mooney & Ellyse Perry started off cautiously before opening their shoulders and finding regular boundaries. The first chance of the day was created in the very first over after the drinks break when Mooney nicked an outswinger from Kate Cross, only for the regulation catch to be dropped by Amy Jones. A few overs later, Jones shelled another chance off Cross when Perry edged one.
Mooney soon brought up her 50 and Australia’s score moved to 100/2. Ecclestone provided the first breakthrough of the day when she trapped Perry LBW for 41 (83). Skipper Meg Lanning walked into the middle and the run-rate dropped significantly as the duo looked to out till lunch and ensure no further damage. But, in the last over before lunch, Charlotte Dean trapped Mooney LBW for 63 (137) with Australia heading into lunch at 123/4 with a lead of 163.
Australia seize control and set a challenge
The 2nd session resumed under murky conditions and Katherine Brunt was quick to take a toll of it as she managed to get the prized scalp of Lanning who edged one to her English counterpart Knight at the first slip. It was time for the McGrath-Gardner duo to join hands once again after their 1st innings heroics. They yet again threatened to take the game away from England as McGrath continued to exercise caution amidst Gardner’s pyrotechnics.
They took Australia’s lead over 200 and the game of timing the declaration began. However, Gardner was dismissed for a run-a-ball 38 by Sciver. Australia continued to bat to ensure that England do not have any chance of winning the game. The lead started to swell and the time was eaten into by the Australian batters as the shoulders started to drop in the English camp.
Dean got rid of McGrath for 34 (67) and Jess Jonassen entered the picture frame to provide a picture finish of three boundaries in just 6 balls as Australia declared their innings to set England a target of 257 in 48 overs. While this target was massive for England to chase considering the amount of time remaining, it was fueled further by the fact that England was trailing in this Ashes and were under extreme pressure to perform. What followed was an approach that took everyone by surprise. England came out steely-eyed as they batted out the remainder of the session by adding 23 runs in 6 overs without any wicket lost.
A game of cat & mouse till the last ball
234 to win for England – 10 wickets to win for Australia – 42 overs to go! A draw seemed like the most realistic result at this stage of the day. The two teams refused to budge though.
England took the initiative first and started off the session well with Beaumont finding boundaries. Australia punched back as Haynes pulled off a stunner at cover off McGrath to dismiss an aggressive Beaumont for 36 (42). In walked the yet-to-be-dismissed Heather Knight. She continued from where she left in the first innings as she got off to a rollicking start.
It rubbed off on Winfield as she started finding boundaries too. England’s score rocketed up to 94/1 in 21.3 overs before Winfield was dismissed by Perry for 33 (65). The deputy joined the captain and the duo was intent on winning the game for England and that’s the only thing they knew. They started firing on all cylinders and stitched together a partnership of 59 runs in 56 balls as drinks were called with 1 hour of play to go. The equation read 104 runs in 17 overs.
Sciver looked unperturbed by the break as she kept scoring quickly. But, there was a lapse in concentration on the other end as Knight missed a delivery off Darcie Brown and was trapped LBW for 48 (54). It was rightly reviewed, but the decision stayed out. Sophia Dunkley was the next batter in and she was given out LBW off the very first ball as Brown breached the defenses again. It was reviewed again by England, but this time it went in their favor as the ball was going over the stumps.
While there was a collective sigh of relief amongst the English, the Australians had found their voice and had their tail up. What followed was a Sophia Dunkley-show as the 23-years old started smashing the Australian bowlers all around the park. She took on Darcie Brown for two fours in an over and followed it up with back-to-back sixes in the very next over against Annabel Sutherland to bring the equation down from 91 runs in 14.5 overs (RRR – 6.3) at the time she walked in to 53 runs in 11 overs (RRR – 4.8). In the midst of that carnage, Sciver brought up her half-century.
In the last 10 overs, they required 45 runs. It seemed like the game was well and truly in England’s grasp. But, Australia changed their tactics. Sutherland started bowling from around the wicket and resorted to the leg-side lines and Alana King also started to operate from the same around the wicket angle. This stemmed the flow of runs for England as they could not find boundaries. Eventually, Sciver pulled a delivery off Sutherland straight to Lanning at square leg to allow another twist In the game.
Sutherland soon got another one as Amy Jones cleared her front leg and smashed one in the air to be caught at the cow corner by Mooney. One brought two – Two brought three as Dunkley was caught at long-on by Mooney again off King for a very well-made 45 (32) and the floodgates had clearly opened as Brunt was dismissed in the very next over as Sutherland’s shorter lengths reaped dividends.
It came down to 17 off 18 with 3 wickets in hand as England continued to look for the win. It was the run-out of Shrubsole and the dismissal of Dean off the very next ball that led to England switching to survival mode and starting to look for a draw with 1 wicket in hand and 13 balls to survive.
The responsibility was on the shoulders of Kate Cross and Sophie Ecclestone who have played a lot of cricket together. It was the experienced Cross who took the responsibility of facing 12 out of those 13 deliveries to ensure that England stay in the fight of regaining the Ashes as they survived successfully in a high-tension environment. With 2 points awarded to both teams, Australia leads England by 6-4 heading into the WODI leg.
Women’s Test cricket – The real winner
Women’s Tests which are like a drop of water in the desert, stood tall once again. The tension and the thrill of this format were felt by everyone following it. Despite the game being marred by rain and the fact that it was a 4-Day Test, the quality of cricket that was seen by the players on both sides was spectacular.
There was grit, there was determination, and there was drama of the highest order all along the length of this match.
Test Match summary:
Australia – 337/9 d & 216/7 d | England – 297 & 245/9
Player of the Match: Heather Knight for 168* (294) & 48 (54)
Result: Match Drawn