England will have to come from behind if they are to retain the Women’s Ashes after Australia won the last of the three-match Royal London one-day internationals in Worcester by 89 runs.
England looked to be stuck in their own nightmarish version of Groundhog Day as they were swept aside in the final ODI of the Women’s Ashes series in Worcester. It was the punishing duo of Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry who, having in the last match accounted for 152 of Australia’s 259 runs, proved the deciding factor again as they repeated the feat, posting exactly 152 runs between them as the tourists reached of 241 for 7.
“I think today, out of all three matches, was the day that we played our best cricket,” said Perry, who was named player-of-the-series for her contributions with bat and ball. “Meg is the best batter in the world so it’s pretty easy to just play a supporting role up the other end.”
The day started brightly for England with Georgia Elwiss, playing so far in this series as a specialist No 7 bat, entering the bowling attack and claiming the wicket of Elyse Villani off her first ball. She almost repeated the feat in her second over when she lured Lanning into a misjudged pull shot which looped agonisingly over the head of mid-on.
It went downhill from there, with Natalie Sciver blowing a promising run-out chance when Lanning was just on five. England were then again left to rue what might have been when the Australia captain was dropped by the normally reliable Lydia Greenway.
After England’s 63-run defeat by Australia on Thursday, in which Lanning was dropped twice, the England vice-captain Heather Knight said: “You have to take your half-chances against Lanning as she doesn’t give many.” With Lanning finishing on 85 off 89 balls and Perry on 67 off just 58, it was clear that lessons had not been learnt.
The hosts’ reply could hardly have got off to a worse start. They did not have a run on the board when captain Charlotte Edwards edged one behind for a fourth-ball duck off the bowling of Perry. The same player then promptly removed Sarah Taylor for one as she inside-edged an ugly shot on to her stumps. When Lauren Winfield was run out with the score on 30 for 3, the game was going just one way.
Greenway swept her way to the top score of 45 and Katherine Brunt hit the first six of the series, but that proved the highlight of England’s innings as they succumbed to defeat.
The series so far has worrying echoes of the men’s – a promising start followed by disappointing performances. Australia are now doing everything just that little bit better and improving with every match.
After losing two of the three ODIs, England, 4-2 down in the series, are in danger of buckling before even reaching the Ashes Test in a fortnight. They had already made three changes after last Thursday’s defeat in Bristol and will have much to ponder heading to Canterbury where losing is now not an option.
“What’s important now is that we go away now, re-group, have a few days off and come back hard,” said bowler Anya Shrubsole.
“The series isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination – if we go and play well in the Test match, if we get a victory there we’re right back in it.”