|Women’s Ashes 2019: First ODI, Fischer County Ground, Leicester|
|England 177 (46.5 overs):Sciver 64, Perry 3-43|
|Australia 178-8 (42.3 overs):Healy 66, Ecclestone 3-34|
|Australia won by two wickets; lead multi-format series 2-0|
Australia took a 2-0 lead in the multi-format Women’s Ashes with a nervy two-wicket victory in the first one-day international against England.
Having been put in to bat, England slipped to 19-4 but Nat Sciver’s 64 helped get them to 177 with Ellyse Perry taking 3-43 at Leicester.
Alyssa Healy then top-scored with 66 as Australia, who had been 105-5, chased the target with two wickets to spare.
England will look to draw level at the same venue on Thursday.
- Women’s Ashes schedule
- ‘The Test match is always special’ – Women’s Ashes preview
- ‘This is the most prepared we’ve ever been for an Ashes series’ – Heather Knight column
England’s top order fails
After Tammy Beaumont hit the first ball of the match to the boundary, England’s top order capitulated.
Amy Jones, who had scored five half-centuries in her previous six ODIs, was cramped for room by the impressive Perry and got a top edge to be dismissed without scoring.
The hosts then lost three wickets with the score on 19. Beaumont dragged on, Sarah Taylor was bowled through the gate and captain Heather Knight was trapped lbw as they endured a nightmare start on a good batting pitch.
The middle order responded well with Sciver playing some glorious cover drives in a well-constructed innings, while Fran Wilson made a useful 15 before being wrongly given out lbw to a ball which hit her glove, sparking a debate about the lack of the Decision Review System (DRS) – which is not being used in the series.
Katherine Brunt (20), Laura Marsh (24 not out) and Sophie Ecclestone (an ODI-best 27) ensured England’s tail wagged.
With the ball, England were much more impressive. Brunt dismissed Australia captain Meg Lanning and had Healy dropped. The all-rounder now has the most Women’s Ashes wickets in all formats for England (52), overtaking Myrtle Maclagan.
The spin duo of Ecclestone and Marsh took a combined 5-65 to ensure a tight finish but ultimately England did not have enough runs on the board, finding the balance of attacking to take wickets, while restricting scoring, too difficult.
Australia impress with the ball
In their first official international in four months, Australia were very impressive with the ball and in the field.
Their decision to bowl first was queried by former England internationals Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway on Test Match Special but it was fully vindicated.
Their line and length to the England top order was impeccable and their fielding was near faultless, with a stunning one-handed catch by Rachael Haynes dismissing Anya Shrubsole.
With the bat, Healy was her usual imperious self at the top of Australia’s chase. The right-hander demonstrated brute strength – she cleared the ropes twice – that left ex-England batter Ebony Rainford-Brent “worried for the rest of the series”.
Their chase was halted by regular wickets; the highest partnership was 29 and numerous players fell to very soft dismissals having got a start.
In the end they creeped over the line – in bizarre fashion as Brunt bowled a ball which went for five wides – and landed the first blow.
‘It was soft dismissals today’ – what they said
England captain Heather Knight:“We fought hard, I’m disappointed with the way we batted, we lost too many early wickets.
“We want to be positive. It wasn’t aggressive shots that got us out, it was soft dismissals today.
“As players we want DRS, I’m sure it’s money the reason we don’t [have it], but as players we’d love to have it.”
Australia skipper Meg Lanning:“It’s nice to get a win first up, our bowlers put England on the back foot early but England bowled well too so it’s good to get over the line. Early wickets always put you under pressure, especially against a strong top order.
“We didn’t think it would be straightforward, but Alyssa Healy showed everyone how to bat – she played very straight and pounced on any width. We feel we’ve got a little bit to work on, and I’m sure England will too.”
Australia all-rounder Ellyse Perry:“It was a weird one today. Every time we felt comfortable during the chase we lost a wicket, it was nice to be on the winning side and get first blood.
“As a group we bowled incredibly well. I was probably a little bit loose at times but as a team and bowling group it was a really great performance and it’s nice in a series to make a statement like that.”
Ex-England batter Ebony Rainford-Brent on TMS:“England battled so hard, they kept chipping away. It shows these two sides are closely matched. Australia have come out of the blocks today though.”
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