It’s been a good start to a marathon summer for the Australian women’s cricket team, who will now leave the West Indies after clean-sweeping the three-game ODI series to begin preparations for their home tour against Sri Lanka.
Alyssa Healy has warned Australia’s batters they must improve after creeping over the line in the women’s Ashes opening one-day international in Leicester.
Making hard work of a 178-run chase, Australia breathed a huge sigh of relief when Katherine Brunt’s delivery going for five wides got them over the line with two wickets to spare.
Indeed, had Anya Shrubsole not dropped a simple caught-and-bowled chance from Delissa Kimmince (14 not out) the result may have been different.
Healy certainly played her part with a superb 66 off 74 balls, before picking out Fran Wilson on the cover boundary off Laura Marsh.
Her partners at the top of the order, Nicole Bolton (2), Meg Lanning (16) and Ellyse Perry (3), did not provide her with any real support though.
Furthermore, with victory in sight poor shots kept England in the contest.
“We’ll sing the team song and cheer the two points but we’ll be realistic in knowing that we’ve got a little bit of work to do and reassess the game plan,” Healy said.
“We’d have liked to have chased it a bit better.
“I think it was really a simple play straight sort of wicket – that was my mindset.
“It’s my gameplan, I just looked to capitalise on anything full.
“We’ll be really honest in our assessment of how we went about it and hopefully we can come out the better side on Thursday and show what we can do.”
Australia seemed to be cruising to victory at 4-104 when Healy fell, then again at 6-150 when Beth Mooney (25) was bowled attempting a lap shot off Marsh.
With just 11 runs required for victory Jess Jonassen (19) carelessly picked out Shrubsole at mid on off Sophie Ecclestone whose 3-34 and run-a-ball 27 kept England in the contest.
England skipper Heather Knight was quick to praise her 20-year-old spinner’s contribution.
“She’s brilliant to have up your sleeve as captain,” Knight said. “She can come on and take a wicket out of nowhere.”
Earlier, Ellyse Perry (3-43) set up a likely victory reducing the hosts to 4-19.
Perry dismissed Amy Jones for a duck and was then on a hat-trick after Tammy Beaumont chopped on (16) at the end of her second over and Knight (0) was trapped leg before with the first ball of her third.
Australia also had a stroke of luck when an umpiring howler saw Fran Wilson given leg before to Jonassen with replays showing the ball clearly hitting her glove.
Natalie Sciver’s 64 got England to 177 and a consistent team bowling effort ensured they stayed in the game.
Ultimately the total was just too small to defend and Australia hold the initiative ahead of the final two ODIs at Leicester (Thursday) and Canterbury (Sunday).