Ashleigh Gardner rips Test Australia away after Sophie Ecclestone’s ten give England hope

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England 463 and 116 for 5 (Wyatt 20*, Cross 5*, Gardner 3-33) need 152 runs to beat Australia 473 and 257 (Mooney 85, Healy 50, Ecclestone 5-63)

Another five wicket haul, and ten for the match, from Sophie Ecclestone set England up for a tantalizing chase on the final day at Trent Bridge before Australia roared back through their own game changer, Ashleigh Gardner, who claimed three vital wickets at the fourth night to turn the Women’s Ashes Test on its head.

England had to pull off the most successful run-chase in Women’s Test history, far surpassing Australia’s 198 for 3 in the 2011 Ashes, and surpassing their own record for the highest fourth innings score of 245 for 9 during last year’s draw with Australia in Canberra after they were conceded a target of 268.

Their hopes were dashed when Gardner, Australia’s off-spinning all-rounder who predicted on the third night that the tourists could use a cracked field to their advantage on day five, England’s first-innings double centurion Tammy Beaumont 22 been caught slipping for hours. and removed Nat Sciver-Brunt to a mistimed attack on either side of Tahlia McGrath’s lbw dismissal of Emma Lamb.

Gardner then trapped Heather Knight lbw as she took three wickets for nine runs in the space of 17 balls to leave England floundering at 73 for 4. Just as Sophia Dunkley and Danni Wyatt had started to keep things stable for England , Kim Garth Dunkley had fallen behind. and by the end England still needed 152 runs with five wickets in hand.

England had missed six chances against their opponents, first building a 267-point lead on partnerships worth 99 between Beth Mooney and Phoebe Litchfield and 50 between Mooney and Ellyse Perry before Alyssa Healy discovered some timely form – and luck – to set up 59 for the eighth wicket with Alana King. That limited the damage as Australia went from 149 for 1 to 257 in their second innings, thanks in large part to Ecclestone’s 5 for 63 which gave her match figures of 10 for 192.

What made Ecclestone’s performance all the more remarkable was her relentless toil during Australia’s first innings, as she bowled 46.2 overs, 28 of them on a trot, for 5 for 129, her first five-for haul in Tests. This haul came from less overs, 30.5, but that was still almost double England’s second hardest working, sailor Kate Cross with 17, and Ecclestone operated as the only spinner in the hosts’ front line, with Knight sent down five overs in Australia’s second innings. and fellow part-time spinner Sophia Dunkley just two in the first.

Litchfield had added just one to her overnight score of 41 when she hit an Ecclestone delivery to Cross, who was unable to hold on in cover. But Cross smiled again as she let Litchfield off for the second time in her first Test, this time with one coming in sharply from a good length and crashing into the top of a tree stump four runs shy of half a century.

Mooney took her fifty-sweeping Ecclestone to the border and survived on 55 when Sciver-Brunt went on the attack after sending down just five overs in Australia’s first innings due to a knee problem, but couldn’t hold a solidly hit return catch on her next. Through.

Lauren Filer, the young fast, turned things back in England’s favor with two wickets in four balls when she knocked out Perry on a short ball and then produced another, fuller ball which slid back in to beat McGrath’s flick and from deflect the ball. front pad to pin the stump back.

Filer kept the Australians under pressure with her pace and movement, but it was the variation in speed of the left arm spinner Ecclestone that was responsible for Jess Jonassen, a faster ball that was too full for her slog-sweep attempt and low under the bat in the stumps slipped. . It was the second time that Ecclestone, the No. 1 ranked bowler in both white-ball formats, had sent off Jonassen in this game.

Annabel Sutherland was promoted to No. 6 after her unbeaten century of No. 8 in the first innings and she got a life to nothing this time as she swept Ecclestone hard and low to square leg where Wyatt capitalized on the opportunity. But then Ecclestone got one to go a long way and Mooney slid on a leg stub and fell for 85.

As Gardner walked ahead of Healy – who stared at the prospect of a double pair in Ashes Tests – the tension mounted and threatened to boil over when Cross pocketed Gardner at second slip on the third ball she encountered. Next, Cross fired one that seemed to have missed Healy’s bat with a hair’s breadth of first ball before hitting the bottom of Amy Jones’ gloves, only for Ultra-Edge to reveal that Healy had a feather and another, she the difficult, chance. to beg for England.

Healy faced four more balls before she was off target, bisecting slip and gully and from there she seemed to gradually settle into her innings, her stunning off-drive to ground Filer’s fuller ball four times to send proved it. She had to after Wyatt made amends for her earlier blunder when Sutherland spooned Ecclestone at her with a square leg, Australia had lost four wickets for 20 runs in the space of 33 balls.

Filer was able to exploit one of the cracks Gardner had mentioned when she got one to spit in King’s back while taking evasive action and, after Healy raised her fifty with a single to cover, King pushed Lauren Bell to to slip out.

Healy perished spooning a full delivery from Ecclestone straight to midwicket and Ecclestone sealed her five-for as she trapped Darcie Brown lbw for a third-ball duck.

There has not been a result in a Women’s Test since 2015, when Australia beat England in Canterbury, but this match is now on the verge of breaking a six-death streak.

Valkerie Baynes is Editor in Chief of Women’s Cricket at ESPNcricinfo

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