Ellyse Perry needs to be Australia’s hero once again if the hosts are to avoid losing the women’s Ashes Test at the WACA Ground after capitulating in their run chase late on day three.
Perry was outstanding with the ball for Australia on Sunday, claiming 5-38 from 20 overs to bowl the tourists out for just 190 in their second innings and set her team 185 to win.
Australia then suffered a horror collapse to be 5-57 at stumps, needing 128 runs to win with Sarah Elliott (five not out) and Perry (one not out) at the crease.
Things looked comfortable for the home side in Perth as they moved to 1-40 in the third session for the loss of only opener Elyse Villani (21), but England’s Test debutant Kate Cross turned the match on its head.
Cross (3-13 from nine overs) ripped through a batting line-up that is dearly missing experience and could have used the prowess of West Australian product Nicole Bolton on her home deck.
Cross had Meg Lanning caught behind for 15 and the next ball got rid of Jess Cameron when she played a poor shot to a wide ball and was caught at slip.
Cross missed her hat-trick, but just five balls into her next over she had Alex Blackwell caught behind for a duck.
Australia slipped to 5-55 shortly after when captain Jodie Fields (13) was brilliantly stumped by Sarah Taylor off the bowling of Jenny Gunn.
Perry has yet another huge job to do. Already the gun allrounder has taken 3-41 in the first dig and 5-38 in the second, with the match’s top score of 71 sandwiched between.
England started on Sunday in trouble at 3-18, but Arran Brindle (35), Natalie Sciver (23), captain Charlotte Edwards (56) and Gunn (44) offered stern resistance.
It was Perry who swung the game Australia’s way, dismissing Brindle and Sciver in the first session and trapping Edwards lbw shortly before tea.
The women’s Ashes will be decided by whichever team compiles the most points over the Test, three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 games but the winner of the Test receives six points and the limited overs are worth just two.