Sport Australia draws to retain women’s Ashes

Australia draws to retain women’s Ashes

Australia's Ellyse Perry bats against England in the Women's Test Match. Photo: Getty
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Meg Lanning feels a dead pitch and overs lost to rain denied Australia victory as their Test with England dribbled to a drab draw, albeit one which ensured the tourists retain the women’s Ashes.

Going into Sunday’s match with a six-point lead, Australia only needed to avoid defeat to clinch the women’s Ashes, with three T20s still to play, and were ultimately happy to settle for a draw rather than chase victory in the last session at Taunton.

First-innings centurion Ellyse Perry finished unbeaten on 76, leaving her 24 runs short of becoming the first woman to hit two hundreds in a Test match, as Australia ended the game on 6-221.

Stalemate was all but certain from the moment England avoided the follow-on in the morning session and, despite a first-innings lead of 145, Australia opted to let Perry rack up runs rather than give the hosts the faintest of chances to chase a target.

Lanning felt failing to restrict England to under 270 on the final morning ultimately ended the game as a contest and, with the time lost to rain on day two, bowling the hosts out on a flat pitch was not feasible.

“We had a good chat about what our options were and whether we could force a result,” Lanning said.

“The pitch wasn’t really deteriorating as we thought it would, so we just didn’t think there was enough time to be able to bowl them out.

“We were hoping to be in a position to enforce the follow on and that was the best chance of winning.

“That time taken out of the game on day two probably didn’t allow us to get there.

England coach Robinson denied suggestions his side cost themselves the chance to win with negative play after tea on day three, when at one stage there were 33 consecutive dot balls.

“I don’t think anybody intentionally tried to shut up shop,” Robinson said.

“There were definitely no instructions to do anything else. You always want to play with intent.”

Robinson felt Sophie Ecclestone having a lbw appeal against Perry turned down in the middle session, when the all-rounder was on 20, was the last chance they had of bowling out.

Prior to that, Sophie Marsh had taken the wickets of Alyssa Healy and Rachael Haynes in an over and Lanning (21) contrived to hit a thigh-high full toss from Kirstie Gordon (1-19) to Georgia Elwiss at cover.

Earlier, England’s Nat Sciver came within 12 runs of a maiden Test century when she agonisingly chopped a ball from Jonassen onto her stumps, as England finished on 9-275 with Australia debutant Sophie Molineux taking 4-95.

Lanning insists motivation will not be a problem in the three remaining T20 internationals, with the irritation of allowing England to salvage a draw in the 2017/18 series fresh in the squad’s minds.

“We came over here to firstly retain the Ashes so it’s nice to tick that off I guess,” Lanning said.

“We still feel like we’ve got a bit to achieve on this tour. We finished 8-8 in the Ashes series in Australia and we really don’t want to feel like that again.”

The sides next meet again on Friday in the first T20 international in Chelmsford.