The day had started out quite bright, but with a strong gusty wind the clouds soon rolled in, and the day was punctuated with drizzle and the odd heavy shower, plus arctic temperatures. Despite the forecast for bad weather Eng A skip Charlotte Edwards decided not to declare overnight with a lead of 289, but to bat on for 30 minutes. Georgia Elwiss (71) and Alex Macdonald (25*) were given licence to open their shoulders and Elwiss took a particular liking to Rebecca Grundy's left-arm spin dispatching her to long-on and cow corner four times in two overs. But Grundy got her revenge when another lusty blow by Elwiss was well caught on the midwicket boundary by Paige Scholfield. Two more overs brought another 12 runs and Edwards called them in on the stroke of 11 o'clock. It meant Eng B needed 325 to win in around 90 overs if the rain did not intervene.
They made a solid start through Tammy Beaumont and Evelyn Jones, with Beaumont looking in very fluent form with the bat. They saw off the opening bowlers - Kate Cross and Tash Farrant- but within two overs of Dani Hazell's off-spin, Eng A had their breakthrough. Jones was lbw propping forward for 8 and Eng B were 46/1.
After a short break for rain and with just 10 minutes to lunch Georgia Elwiss then got one through Fran Wilson's drive to bowl her middle stump for 5. Beaumont meanwhile had made her way to an excellent 50.
Immediately after lunch the game swung firmly the way of Eng A, when first innings centurion Amy Jones (10), having driven Cross for two sumptuous 4s, was bowled by her, and then Lydia Greenway was another Hazell lbw victim for a duck. Eng B looked in trouble at 81/4, but Beaumont was still there. She and Nat Sciver (47) then added 81 for the fifth wicket, either side of another rain break. Both looked untroubled, until Sciver went back to a full ball from Alex Hartley and was lbw, and Beaumont's innings was ended as she swotted a rank long-hop from Elwiss to Luff at cover point, where she juggled the ball before taking the catch. Beaumont had made 84 and deserved a hundred.
Eng A were jubilant. They had Eng B 162/6 and were closing in on the win they thought, but they had not bargained for Shrubsole's determined batting effort. Eng B gave up on the win and decided to dig in. Unfortunately Katherine Brunt became Hartley's second lbw victim, propping a long way forward, but adjudged to be in line. Seven down, but with renowned stonewaller Laura Marsh (remember the Ashes Test?) striding to the crease all was not lost for Eng B. She duly obliged. Either side of another rain break she and Shrubsole added 33 runs, but more importantly they took another 16 overs out of the game, and saw Eng B into the last hour of the match (17 overs). Marsh (11 off 54 balls) was staunch in her defence. Shrubsole was judicious in her shot selction and punished the bad ball as the Eng A field encircled the bat. She did give two chances but neither Edwards at slip, nor Farrant at square leg could hold on to them.
Three overs in to the final hour Marsh finally capitulated, yet another lbw victim to Hazell. Had Georgia Elwiss hung on to a catch at slip off the incoming Beth Langston (7*) two balls later the game could have been Eng A's. But the chance went down and Shrubsole moved on to 50 and beyond, taking as much of the strike as she could. After 78 overs the Eng B innings closed on 273/8 just 51 behind Eng A's total, with Shrubsole 75 not out.
It had been a testing time for the bowlers on a good batting track and a good test of England's four day skills, so infrequently used. I will leave the review of who did what and who has enhanced or diminished their Ashes claims for later in the week. I need to thaw out first.
Match Scorecard (unofficial)