Having won the toss the Aussies set about the England attack in a much more positive manner than they had done in the first ODI, thanks in no small part to debutant Nicole Bolton, who took the opening spot from struggling Elyse Villani. She punished anything too short and anything over-pitched and opening pair Anya Shrubsole and Kate Cross fed her far too much to hit. But it was in the field that England were the most generous. Arran Brindle missed the stumps on a run out attempt before Bolton had scored; Jenny Gunn put her down at gully off Cross on five; and Nat Sciver shelled a simple chance at midwicket, also off Cross, when she was on 28. Bolton made the most of these chances as she compiled a magnificent debut century, the first ever by an Aussie woman, finishing with 124 off 152 balls, before she tamely attempted an unnecessary reverse sweep to a Nat Sciver full-toss and was bowled. But by then the Aussies had reached 209/3.
Meg Lanning’s poor series had continued, the first to fall when she was bowled by the hard-working Hazell for five. Jess Cameron (44) looked in better touch but was caught by Greenway at midwicket off Hazell as she looked to up the pace. Alex Blackwell (55) helped Bolton achieve her maiden century when at times she looked like succumbing to the inevitable pressure on her. Her first 50 was stylish, the second 50 less so, but nonetheless worthy.
After she fell the Aussies wobbled a bit with Ellyse Perry going first ball lbw to Cross and Alyssa Healy (4) slogging Sciver to Danni Wyatt at deep square leg. Jess Jonassen hit 13 off eight balls before she was stumped by Taylor off Shrubsole, but the Aussies already had 247 on the board and they ended with 266 thanks to Blackwell’s 43 ball 50. She went in the last over caught at cover off Shrubsole and the Aussies finished on 266/7.
It was a poor effort by England in the field. Shrubsole and Sciver dropped two more easy catches and there were numerous fumbles and missed run-outs. Dani Hazell (2/44) and Nat Sciver (2/23) were the pick of the bowlers, with Kate Cross (1/37) coming back well from an indifferent start. Perhaps if Charlotte Edwards had had more faith in her younger bowlers, rather than the experienced Shrubsole, Brindle and Gunn, then the Aussie total may have been less formidable.
England needed a good start to their innings, but it was not to be as Charlotte Edwards allowed a straight ball from Ferling through to hit her stumps first ball and then Lydia Greenway, promoted to three, was adjudged lbw to Perry. England were 13/2 in the 7th over. But slowly Heather Knight (55) and Sarah Taylor (68) brought England back into the game. Both managed to find their timing after slow starts and they took the score to 97/2 in the 23rd over. They had been pushing the singles and hitting the odd boundary, but having reached her 50 Knight seemed to decide that it was down to her to up the ante. For three overs she just tried too hard to hit the ball and eventually the self-imposed pressure told as she advanced to Julie Hunter and was neatly stumped by Healy.
But Taylor and Arran Brindle (19) kept the score ticking over and while they did so England looked to be in with a shout. But that was not to take into account the “Bolton Factor”. Brindle cut an Osborne deliver straight to Bolton at backward point. Taylor set off from the non-striker’s end without hesitation, but Bolton gathered the ball in and threw down the stumps from 30 metres out with Taylor well short. It looked like England’s hopes had gone too, especially when Brindle, Wyatt (1) and Gunn (5) all followed Taylor back to the pavilion with the score only moving on to 173/7. But Nat Sciver (57 off 42 balls) conjured up one last gasp for England as she added 31 with Hazell, and then 16 with Shrubsole. She had added another 16 with Kate Cross (0*), including two beautiful ramp shots off Perry, before she smashed a long-hop from Osborne straight to Holly Ferling at square leg to bring England’s innings to an end on 240.
The relief on the Aussie faces was palpable. They live to fight another day – the next in Hobart on Sunday. England will need to bowl and field a lot better in Tasmania than they did here at the MCG, but if they can do so they will back themselves to sneak the two points they need to clinch this entertaining Ashes Series.
23rd January 2014