Australia remains one win away from wrapping up the women’s Ashes after England’s stoic top order held out for a draw in the historic pink-ball Test.
After starting the day trailing by 120 runs with 10 wickets in hand, the visitors resisted Australia’s attempts to take an unassailable series lead as they batted out the final evening to 2-206 when both captain’s agreed to end play.
The result kept England in the multi-formatted Ashes, but with Australia leading 6-4 on points the visitors will need to win all three Twenty20s to wrest back the urn from Australian hands.
After Ellyse Perry’s Australian record of 213 not out batted the English out of the match on Saturday, captain Heather Knight led England’s resistance.
The 26-year-old batted four hours for her plucky 79, while Georgia Elwiss also faced 190 deliveries for her 41 in the 117-run stand.
Both teams struggled to take wickets in the daylight hours across the Test, as the abrasive North Sydney Oval pitch made it difficult for bowlers to get much out of the pink ball once the shine was gone.
Only debutantes Amanda Wellington and Tahlia McGrath were able to strike on the final day at North Sydney Oval, as they gave Australia a sniff in the first session when they removed openers Tammy Beaumont and Lauren Winfield (34).
Wellington’s dismissal of Beaumont for 37 came from the perfect legspinner’s delivery that spun past the edge of the bat to take the top of off-stump.
Despite their relief of saving the match on Sunday, the draw would be viewed as a missed opportunity for England which was all over Australia midway through the second day.
After it scored 280 in its first innings, it had Australia at 3-61 and 4-95 on the second day before Perry’s maiden century changed the game.
Her knock was the third highest in the history of the women’s Test cricket, the best score made in Australia as well as the biggest unbeaten knock.
It allowed Australia to declare at 9-448 – the third-highest score in the team’s history – late on Saturday night, but its hopes of winning the Test were severely dented when it failed to get a breakthrough with the new pink ball under lights.
Regardless though, the Test will be considered a success after an Australian record of 12,674 fans turned out across the four days.