Australia women continue their uncompromising cricket that is suffocating any chance England believe they have in Ashes
There was a time, when players named Ponting and Waugh were running about, that Australian cricket’s dominant traits were ruthlessness and relentlessness. That is no longer the case in the men’s teams, as they have shifted into a quite endearing state of ongoing fallibility studded with bursts of brilliance. But as Meg Lanning’s charges have taken apart England on their current Ashes tour, they have started to bear resemblance to Australian sides of times past.
At Taunton on the first day of the solitary Test, it was a different ruthlessness to that men’s side which pushed to win at all costs. This was the ruthlessness of not needing to win, of suffocating the opposition’s hopes before they really had a chance to draw breath. It was also a ruthlessness that leaves Australia the option of being the only team that can conceivably win from here.
• Day one of four: Australia 265-3 • Perry scores 84 not out in hard day for England
The first day of women’s Test cricket in two years concluded with the series pendulum still firmly in favour of Australia, who clocked up 265 runs for the loss of only three wickets. England have to win this Test if they are to stand any chance of regaining the Ashes but already, after 100 overs of attritional cricket and with rain likely to interrupt play across the second and third days, a draw looks the most likely result.
England were yet again undone by a patient effort from Ellyse Perry, who finished unbeaten on 84 after a century partnership with Rachael Haynes for the fourth wicket, in an innings that has already sparked comparisons to her 213 not out on the last occasion of this kind, at North Sydney in 2017. Earlier in the day, Alyssa Healy and Meg Lanning had both hit maiden Test half-centuries.
With its closeup duels and aerial shots of teeming stadiums, this perfectly timed doc plugs into the sport’s cinematic power
The stars align around certain releases. Landing days after the extraordinary scenes at the Cricket World Cup final at Lord’s, Barney Douglas’s documentary account of the reinvention of English cricket under the aegis of coach Andy Flower and captain Andrew Strauss is almost as well-timed as a Joe Root cover drive.
That World Cup final demonstrated how, at its best, this sport writes its own outlandish script. What Douglas underlines – defying decades of film-making indifference – is that cricket can be cinematic: at once widescreen (the Sky archives have been raided for aerial shots of packed stadiums in sun-dappled locales) and closeup in its duels between batsmen and bowlers. Unpredictable, too: some intriguing turn in this narrative elevates the film a notch or two over standard sports-doc fodder.
Australia go with an extra bat, leaving out the leggie Wareham. England are playing three specialistspinners, overlooking seamer Cross. Full XIs shortly.
Actually, read this before the toss. Megan Schutt has views and isn’t afraid to voice them. Her latest column spells out why it is plainly wrong that only Australian and English women get to play Tests and how it isn’t fair that they only get to do so every other year. Crucially, she also comes with ideas for the future.
Good morning from Taunton! We are roughly ten minutes from the toss and I come with news off the top. Three Australians are winning their baggy greens today: Ash Gardner, Tayla Vlaeminck and Sophie Molineux. For England, Amy Jones and Kirstie Gordon are set to make their Test Match bows.
For the visitors, it was a brilliant touch having Dan Christian on deck to present Gardner with the famous cap. Of course, the two of them captained the teams that toured England last summer to mark 150 years since the trailblazing Indigenous Australians visited this country to play in 1868. Mitch Starc welcomed Vlaeminck, a fellow speedster, to the fold while Belinda Clark, the interim boss of high performance and former dominant skipper, gave the speech for Molineux.
Lovely touch with Dan Christian presenting Ash Gardner’s baggy green. Tayla Vlaeminck and Sophie Molineux are also debuting, receiving their caps from Mitch Starc and Belinda Clark. Nicely done. #WomensAshespic.twitter.com/kAszvXimhy
2) It’s that time of year again when we begin preparing for the World Chase Tag championships, to be held at London’s York Hall on 24 August. Here’s the final of WCT 3, and a best chase compilation from the same.
It doesn’t sit right with me that my baggy green lies in a cupboard unused for years at a time
My strongest memories of growing up and falling in love with cricket are watching the men’s team play Test matches. We never had women’s cricket on TV in those days, so they were who I wanted to emulate. Glenn McGrath, in particular, was my hero. And I’ll never forget as a kid watching Mike Hussey hit the winning runs in the “Amazing Adelaide” Test of 2006.
There is an honour associated to Tests due to the history it brings. As much as I enjoy playing T20 cricket, there is something about the culture around playing with a red ball in whites which has always gripped me as both a fan and now as an Australian player. It makes it pretty frustrating that my baggy green sits in its holder in my cupboard for two years at a time. It’s also why this week means so much to me, as we prepare for our Women’s Ashes Test.
Jacob Rees-Mogg’s tweet was frustrating because we want sport to be pure, as it was at Lord’s in a game the Kiwis didn’t deserve to lose
“I’m not sure anyone at the moment has a steady heart … Seven weeks of cricket, 48 games, one ball. Here’s Boult, they’re going to push, are we in for a super over? They’ve got to go quick, they’ve got to go quick. OUT! I’m sure he’s OUT! We’re going for a super over!”
The ICC montage of the last moments of the Cricket World Cup final has almost four million views – which isn’t that impressive considering three million of them are mine. Ian Smith’s commentary, in that gravelly Kiwi drawl, is spine tingling to the last second.
Long-suffering cricket fanatics would have given their right stumps for a ticket – but instead Lord’s was full of corporate clients on a jolly
On Sunday I received texts from various friends who were at Lord’s for the Cricket World Cup final. One thing they had in common was that, in all the years I’ve known them, never have they betrayed the remotest interest in the sport. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard any of them so much as utter the word “cricket”. Yet they were there and I wasn’t. I couldn’t get a ticket. I’m not bitter on my account, but I am gutted on behalf of so many long-suffering, hard-travelling cricket fans who would have given their right stumps to have been there.
Even if I had been offered a ticket I would have had to refuse it, or at least not accept it until I’d called at least three people I know who would have been more deserving cases. I’ve watched plenty of county cricket, and fought for Test match tickets tooth and nail. It was even my privilege once to travel to Cape Town to watch England lose a test match at Newlands in less than three days. I’ve done my time. And yet, relative to my cricket-fanatic friends, I wouldn’t have felt worthy of a ticket for Sunday’s final. The guilt of being there while they weren’t would have been too much.