Ecclestone the ‘benchmark’ but Gardner turns Test towards Australia

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By Webdesk


A battle between two spinners made for an intriguing final in the Women’s Ashes Test on a Trent Bridge pitch that had more and more to offer the bowlers on the fourth day.

Sophie Ecclestone, who was born seemingly brilliant, she’s been dominant for England for so long, and Ashleigh Gardner, who worked hard to make herself a linchpin of an all-conquering Australian side, were equally influential for their side on a hard- fought day.

Ecclestone claimed her second five-wicket haul of the match to bowl Australia out for 257 in their second innings, which would have looked worse had it not been for Beth Mooney and Alyssa Healy for half a century.

And while it still meant England got a target of 268, which would be by far the most successful run chase in Women’s Test history, and would require a record fourth innings total, it looked no further than them with, say, first – innings double centurion Tammy Beaumont in their lineup.

But then Gardner claimed 3 for 33 in her nine overs, including the wickets of Beaumont, captain Heather Knight and the dangerous Nat Sciver-Brunt, and the hosts’ job just got that much harder. With Tahlia McGrath and Kim Garth each taking a wicket, England were five wickets down and still needed 152 runs.

Mooney praised Gardner’s resilience in making himself Australia’s go-to option in a side flush with spin-bowling all-rounders, when that wasn’t always the case.

“Ash, to her credit she’s improved her offspin bowling out of sight over the past few years,” Mooney said. “We know that in this format she can settle to one side and throw the ball in the right areas, exactly where we want it. So it’s a big payoff for some serious hard work she’s put in on and off the pitch. so I couldn’t be happier for Ash, I think she’s done a great job for us.

“Soph has set such a standard in white-ball cricket over the last few years and now she’s showing her class in Test cricket but I don’t think Ash is far behind her. She’s been excellent for us over the last few years. It was probably a time of two or three years ago [regular captain] Meg [Lanning] tended not to throw the ball to Ash in T20 cricket and to her credit she changed what she was doing and changed her variations and things like that.

“Last WBBL was probably the turning point for Ash. She was player of the tournament, bowled down the house, hit well and now she’s just a mainstay in our bat and ball lineup so I’m really happy for her. Hopefully there will be more improvement from her and she will also be part of the furniture of Australian cricket.

Gardner could very well be called up again early on the final day with legspinner Alana King remaining off the field so far in England’s second innings after being elbowed while batting, although she was expected to return at some point on Monday would return to the field. .

Ecclestone has long been a fixture at the top of the ICC’s bowling rankings, making her a reliable choice for England as their only front-line spinner in this Test side. She sent down 46.2 overs in Australia’s first innings, netting 5 for 129 and sparking some tongue-in-cheek suggestions that she should be called up to the England men’s squad as injury cover for the injured Moeen Ali. Her 5 for 65 came from 30.5 overs in Australia’s second innings, but it was still a mammoth effort.

Her role also meant England could debut Lauren Filer, a 22-year-old fast who repaid the confidence with a crucial spell in Australia’s second innings, which included the wickets of Ellyse Perry and McGrath.

“We know the class that is Sophie Ecclestone, she’s been around for a long time,” Mooney said. “I thought she bowled really well and changed her pace beautifully. And Lauren is clearly a young raw talent who can get the ball into some pretty good areas. It was tough conditions. I think the wicket played a bit of a part in that played and Soph, to her credit, bowled beautifully in the conditions and Lauren with her raw pace and young talent bowled well too Tough conditions but that’s Test cricket.

Ecclestone said there wasn’t much she could do to prepare for such a big part in this match, so she just kept going.

“I just made sure to play as much golf as possible to get out and about and take my mind off cricket,” said Ecclestone. “I knew I was going to be bowling a lot of overs and I didn’t think it would be that many, but I’m thankful I was bowling a lot because I took ten wickets and I’m definitely made to stop doing that. You you can’t really prepare for that, you just have to go through with it and you just have to be strong in spirit.’

Her mental determination may have taken some of her teammates by surprise, she joked, telling Sky Sports: “Some girls prank me, say I’m a bit of an idiot, just have a little laugh, but when it comes to cricket “I know what I’m doing.”

Returning to seriousness, Ecclestone said England still believed they could win, despite leading by 10 runs in the first innings against Australia.

“We’ve always believed in that dressing room and we’re definitely going to be ready to win that test match tomorrow. We would have bitten your hand to have this situation yesterday after our disappointment last night, we missed an opportunity.” , but to come over like we did and eject them and be in this position now, we’re just ready for tomorrow.

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



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