A 169-run partnership between Australian captain Meg Lanning (93) and her deputy Rachael Haynes (86) has put the hosts in a strong position at stumps on the first day of the Ashes Test in Canberra.
Aussie fans watched with bated breath early in the day after Australia were 2-4 at the end of the third over with Alyssa Healy out for a duck after a swinging ball from Katherine Brunt. Beth Mooney departed not long after for three.
But the day really belonged to the captain and vice-captain with cameos from both Ashleigh Gardener and Tahlia McGrath who both scored half-centuries as Australia reached 7/327.
It was pleasing to see attacking cricket from Australia, particularly after Lanning’s comments earlier in the week that her team was coming to win this Test match.
Of course, elite sporting teams always want to win, but the reality is that because women’s Test matches are only four days and due to the impact of used, docile pitches, there isn’t always a result.
Australia has not won a Test match since 2015 (albeit it’s a very small sample size).
Here are the talking points from day 1.
This is a tremendous Australian team with no shortage of talent with bat or ball. While an enviable position to be in, it can make a selector’s job very tricky.
Many were shocked when Ellyse Perry was dropped from the team for the T20 portion of the series. There were more surprises in the line-up today with Megan Schutt omitted after it was revealed that she is under-conditioned after coming back from a COVID-19 diagnosis.
Spin was also given the nod, with Alana King selected over the pace of Stella Campbell, giving King the opportunity to make her Test debut for Australia. We will find out whether this was the right call when Australia take the field (likely tomorrow).
For England, off-spinner Charlie Dean also made her debut.
No luck for England in the field
The scoreboard will show that the day belonged to Haynes and Lanning, but that does not reflect that the English team certainly had their chances.
The first opportunity came in the 28th over when Lanning was dropped at slip by Heather Knight just before lunch (Knight redeemed herself later in the day taking a catch in the cordon to dismiss Lanning for 93).
Then in the 33rd over, Haynes was dropped by Nat Sciver at second slip.
The game would have been very different had England taken their opportunities.
Another chance for England came in the 44th over when a delivery to Lanning was sent upstairs for DRS. The ball certainly deflected and was caught, but it was unclear as to whether it hit Lanning on the forearm or the wristband of the glove. Whilst the third umpire decided that the ball missed Lanning’s glove, some commentators thought England were desperately unlucky.
What do you think? Was it lucky Lanning or did it miss her glove?
Brave and bloody tough
When you think about the Australian Women’s Cricket team so many words come to mind – talented, hardworking, determined, legacy, resilience… (I could go on)…
Despite only scoring three runs today, no one could question that Beth Mooney is all of those words and so much more. Just nine days ago Mooney had surgery on her fractured jaw which was injured while batting in the nets on the first day of the Ashes tour in Adelaide.
Mooney strode to the crease with three metal plates in her face, wire on her bottom lip and could only eat soup, milkshakes and ice-cream through a straw in the lead up to the match.
The fact that she is playing this Test match is superhuman to me.
Ellyse Perry’s average drops
Perry was caught behind on 18, the first time in six innings and six years that Perry has been dismissed for less than 100 in a Test match.
I was there when Perry scored her unbeaten 213 at North Sydney Oval in 2017 and whilst it was a tremendous celebration of her immense talent, part of me is sad that Perry and her teammates do not get the chance to play more Test cricket.
Imagine what more Perry could have done in her career if Test matches were played more regularly.
It’s time to reopen this conversation about the frequency of women’s Test matches and perhaps we can even talk about upping women’s Test matches to five days, or at least having a spare day in case play is impacted by rain.