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Historic day-night Ashes Test ends in draw, but there was no shortage of highlights

Mary Konstantopoulos Columnist

By Mary Konstantopoulos, Mary Konstantopoulos is a Roar Expert

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    After four days of cricket at the picturesque North Sydney Oval, the Test between the Australian Women’s Cricket Team and the England Women’s Team ended in a draw.

    By day four, Australia had a 128-run lead and hoped to get the ten English wickets on the final day to claim the win. Unfortunately it was not to be.

    Despite the result, it was a weekend of many firsts. The first time that the Australian Women’s Cricket Team had had the opportunity to play a day-night Test. The first time the Australian Women’s Cricket Team had been able to contribute on the field to the incredible work that the McGrath Foundation does.

    And five women made their Test debuts, including three Australians – Amanda-Jade Wellington, Tahlia McGrath and Beth Mooney, who all received their first baggy greens.

    Here are some of my highlights from the four days of play.

    Wicket walks and freakish catches
    In England’s first innings on day one, I would love to tell you how incredible Alex Blackwell’s catch was to dismiss Lauren Winfield on four. Or how calmly confident Megan Schutt was when she took a catch to dismiss Georgia Elwiss on 28, or how impressed I was when Jess Jonassen took a catch to dismiss Katherine Brunt on one… but I can’t. Because I wasn’t watching.

    There’s something in cricket called a wicket walk. Often fans, spectators and families of the players decide to take a bit of a stroll around the oval when the team in the field needs a wicket. I happened to be doing a wicket walk for each of these three wickets and missed them.

    But one wicket I didn’t miss was Ellyse Perry’s fluky caught and bowled to dismiss Sarah Taylor on 29.

    Ellyse could not stop laughing after she took the catch. It wasn’t the best delivery, but it got a result.

    Sarah Taylor mishit the ball, it then bounced from Ellyse’s left arm into her right shoulder and then popped up for Ellyse to catch.

    Sometimes cricket isn’t about bowling the best ball – it’s about taking advantage of opportunities presented to you. Ellyse certainly did that and had the whole crowd laughing along with her.

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    Sarah Taylor and her lightning hands
    With England all out in their first innings for 280 and Australia in to bat early on day two, I was feeling confident.

    Similar to England on day one it was a slow start for the Aussies. The crowd patiently waited for the final session for some more action – more boundaries, more swing and more wickets.

    The most spectacular wicket of the day was a catch taken by Sarah Taylor to dismiss Elyse Villani for 14 off an Anya Shrubsole delivery.

    Elyse Villani started her innings aggressively, but unfortunately edged the ball straight into the hands of Sarah Taylor, who was standing right up to the stumps.

    Taylor has been exceptional throughout this Ashes series and has marvelled fans with her lightning fast hands.

    Forget her being the best wicketkeeper in women’s cricket, I would almost go as far as saying she is the best wicketkeeper in the world at the moment.

    A false start and one of the greatest innings of all time
    Heading into Day 3 there was consensus – for Australia to have any chance at winning this Test match, Ellyse Perry had to score a century.

    And that she did. But then she went one further and made a double century, finishing the innings unbeaten on 213*.

    Seeing Ellyse embrace her best friend, Alyssa Healy, when she reached her century was a moment to behold.

    There was a bit more tension surrounding the double century, though.

    Australia was down to its very last batter, so I would also like to congratulate Megan Schutt, who is not known for her batting, for playing cautiously and doing her job of getting Ellyse back on strike to reach her 200. Her 1* is my favourite 1* that I have ever seen.

    It was a tense couple of minutes. There was a false start, where Ellyse hit a ball over midwicket when on 194. The crowd thought it was a six and so did Ellyse, taking off her helmet and celebrating.

    Unfortunately, the ball landed a couple of inches short and Ellyse had to settle herself again and demonstrate the intense concentration which saw her bat out the vast majority of the day.

    In the post-match press conference, Ellyse jokingly blamed the crowd and said her premature celebrations followed their lead. She called this the ‘second most embarrassing thing’ she had done during the Test match.

    But then came the double hundred. The third-highest score in women’s Test match cricket and the best by an Australian – ever.

    Well done Pez – imagine what she could do if she had the opportunity to play Test cricket more frequently.

    Ellyse Perry celebrates a century

    (AAP Image/Daniel Munoz)

    Speaking of which, I’ve read some articles which have criticised the quality of cricket played over the four days – particularly on days 1 and 2 where the run rate overall was just over two and a half runs per over.

    There was a lack of intent on the first two days and both teams were playing cautiously rather than the aggressive cricket many fans enjoy.

    In response to this, I remind everyone how few opportunities women have to play Test cricket. When Ellyse Perry was asked in a press conference about the last time she played Test cricket, she had to pause for a moment because she couldn’t really remember the occasion.

    Many of the women playing over the last four days really enjoy the longer format of the game but just aren’t given the opportunity to play.

    When our players are given the chance to play more long-form cricket, then we can more appropriately judge the quality of their play.

    Additionally, there’s no need to compare the women’s game to the men’s game. They are different and should be treated as such.

    For now, I’m just going to continue to enjoy the good vibes at North Sydney Oval and celebrate the fact that so many people are getting involved in the conversation about women’s cricket.

    Australia now lead the series 6-4 heading into the final format of the series – the T20s.

    The next game will be at North Sydney Oval on Friday 17 November and Australia remain just one win away from claiming the series.

    If you’re in Sydney, you know what to do – get your bum on a seat on Friday to watch Australia (hopefully) reclaim the Ashes.

    Mary Konstantopoulos
    Mary Konstantopoulos

    Mary Konstantopoulos is a lawyer, sports advocate and proud owner and founder of the Ladies Who empire, including Ladies who League, Ladies who Legspin, Ladies who Lineout and Ladies who Leap. You can find her podcast on iTunes and find her on Twitter @mary__kaye and @ladieswholeague.

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    The Crowd Says (13)

    • November 13th 2017 @ 7:00am
      jamesb said | November 13th 2017 @ 7:00am | ! Report

      Cricket Australia should be very thankful that Perry chose cricket. The cricket side does need her more than the Matildas.

      Imagine if Perry chose football and the Matildas? The Matildas would be very strong and a great chance of doing something at a world cup. If she didn’t play cricket, not only would CA lose someone as marketable as Perry, but they would lose two players for the price of one, as she is an allrounder.

      Select her for the first test at the ‘Gabba. We could only dream….

      • Columnist

        November 13th 2017 @ 10:08am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | November 13th 2017 @ 10:08am | ! Report

        She’s a national treasure. So special to be there to watch her make 213*.

    • November 13th 2017 @ 8:43am
      Basil said | November 13th 2017 @ 8:43am | ! Report

      I read an article the other day from someone who did the running commentary on this very same game who said it was a bit boring. Which one is true?

      • Roar Rookie

        November 13th 2017 @ 9:15am
        JamesH said | November 13th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

        It sounds like there were some slow patches where teams shut up shop for lengthy periods (particularly England yesterday), interspersed by clumps of wickets and runs.

        Perry scored 200 at a strike rate of 57, so her innings can’t have been too boring.

      • Columnist

        November 13th 2017 @ 10:03am
        Mary Konstantopoulos said | November 13th 2017 @ 10:03am | ! Report

        Hi Basil

        Thanks for your comment.

        It’s really a bit of both. As you can see my article is about highlights – so the moments I have selected are my favourite from the four days.

        There were moments and days in fact when it was very slow going – but regardless the atmosphere was still a lot of fun and the crowd were in good spirits.

        The reality is that the pitch was dead by the final day and despite the bowlers bowling some very good areas, they simply could not make a breakthrough.

        Additionally, some people may question tactics from both teams – fair enough – but so many of our players are very inexperienced when it comes to this format. The last time that the Aussies played in a test was over 2 years ago.

        For women to get better at this format of the game, they need to be given more opportunity to play.

        Just my two cents.

        • November 13th 2017 @ 2:02pm
          matth said | November 13th 2017 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

          The pitch was slow and did not break up, but also playing over four days does not give the pitch as much time to change as a five day game does.

          But the teams were quite defensive, both seemed to be playing not to lose more than to win. I think there are two reasons for this, which both are from the lack of long form cricket:

          1. The captains were too quick to go into a defensive ring type field, which would be their go-to field in the 50 over games. this made scoring slower, but also reduced the wicket taking pressure. Of course, the placid pitch also played a part here.

          2. Given how few test matches there are, there are players out there who would be thinking this may be one of their few chances to play an Ashes test match, there were few risks taken by the batting sides.

          In the end it means the series is alive going into the T20’s and that’s a good thing.

        • November 13th 2017 @ 3:17pm
          reuster75 said | November 13th 2017 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

          Lisa Sthalekar made a good point yesterday on ABC radio about the impact lack of playing test cricket had on the game, that it took both teams an innings to work out/remember how to play. She was advocating for three test matches to be played in this series in the future which I agree with. Also don’t forget there is no first class competition for women like the Sheffield Shield so they are conditioned to play limited overs cricket which hampers them when they have to play a test. The next step for women’s cricket should be getting agreement from other nations to copy the ashes series format for fututre bilateral tours.

          • Columnist

            November 13th 2017 @ 3:57pm
            Mary Konstantopoulos said | November 13th 2017 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

            Lisa and Mel really are the perfect commentators for the women’s game because they really do understand its nuances and also understand its history and why things are done the way they are.

            Next Ashes, I would love to see Lisa’s suggestion taken up – the best of the best – 3 ODIs, 3 T20s and 3 Tests.

            Wow.

        • Roar Guru

          November 13th 2017 @ 10:46pm
          mds1970 said | November 13th 2017 @ 10:46pm | ! Report

          On the Saturday when I was there, over 300 runs were scored for the day, which isn’t bad.
          If you turn back the clock to the 1970s & 80s, before full-time professionalism, the scoring rate was similar to the womens test. Even Ian Chappell’s invincibles and the all-conquering West Indies teams of the 1980s struggled to score 250 in a day.
          Warner-esque scoring in Test cricket is a relatively recent thing.

    • November 13th 2017 @ 12:54pm
      Selena Silcox said | November 13th 2017 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

      Great wrap-up Mary. Test cricket can be boring sometimes but it’s also dynamic and ever-changing, depending on the day and conditions. That’s the beauty of it. And sometimes a ‘boring’ innings by a batter isn’t appreciated until the end of a match when viewed as a part of a whole. That’s why so many people still love Tests.

      I’d love to see the women play more tests, and I’d also love to see them increased to 5 days. I feel like an extra day in Sydney may have given England a sniff, which may have changed their tactics. It may also have changed the Aussie tactics – I was a little disappointed that they didn’t seem to be more aggressive with their fielding on the last day and throw caution to the wind a bit, particularly since they weren’t going to lose the match. I feel like England go into the T20s now with a bit of a spring in their step and the Aussies will have to be right on their game to get that one win needed to wrap up the series.

      Regardless, those sorts of decisions come from practice, which will come from more Test matches being played. I understand the reluctance of CA to go too fast with building the women’s game, but it’s been around for a long time (as evidenced by the sheer number of ex-Aussie and ex-England players at the match over the weekend).

      The players clearly want more Test match opportunities, and I think the cricketing public would get behind it. I know I would. Now if only we could all of the women’s matches on free-to-air TV, that would be perfect!

    • November 13th 2017 @ 3:37pm
      Simon said | November 13th 2017 @ 3:37pm | ! Report

      It was great, a real nice vibe coming through the screen from North Sydney Oval, some incredible moments (Perry’s innings and A.J. Wellington’s wickets) and I want at least another women’s test every year.
      Having said that, the pitch looked like a real road and wasn’t conducive to great test match cricket. I didn’t see anything wrong with the run rates, it’s just that there wasn’t enough life in the wicket for the bowlers to take advantage of keeping the runs down. I think perhaps the JLT cup game that was called off for a dangerous wicket scared the groundspeople a bit and they did everything in their power for that not to happen in this game

    • November 13th 2017 @ 4:15pm
      Darren said | November 13th 2017 @ 4:15pm | ! Report

      Great wrap – thanks Mary. I streamed play at different times throughout the weekend – and managed to catch that great moment when Elysse Perry scored 200, didn’t and then did again.
      Australia batted with good intent on Saturday and England then understandably shut up shop as they were batted out of the game. I think the pitch was a real let down for a day/night game and played a big part in the slowness of play/lack of wickets. Administrators need to think about this as for a pink ball to last you need a bit more grass on the surface – it would also have helped it swing and seam in that last session (a great part of day/night test cricket).
      I agree with many other comments that a 3 tests series (supported by 4 day domestic cricket) would make a big difference to the way the game is played at international level – it would be tough playing only one test in two years.
      Also, it would be great if Channel 9 could play the tests live on one of their 5 Free to Air stations.
      Finally Ellyse Perry – you are a star!

    • November 13th 2017 @ 5:00pm
      Brainstrust said | November 13th 2017 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

      There was only one big problem with the match and that it was over 4 days.
      In first class cricket you can play 4 days or 3 days because no one cares if they contrive a result.
      In county cricket they make deals and then have fieldsman throw the ball over the boundary.
      Your not going to do that in test cricket and once you put a 4 day limit, it means once a team gets behind they have an easy out if the pitch is not providing a lot of assistance.

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