Australia are back in the Ashes Series. Were they ever really out of it? No we just got a bit over-excited after the Taunton match.
They came into the second ODI at Bristol with a much more balanced side, replacing Jess Cameron with opener Nicole Bolton and leggie Kristen Beams with medium-pacer Megan Schutt, who has bowled plenty of times in English conditions before for Notts. Cameron can probably count herself as unlucky. She was batting well at Taunton before she was run out, but the Aussies wanted Bolton in to open the batting (left-arm spinner Jess Jonassen filled in in the last ODI) which meant sacrificing a batsman somewhere. The only other weak link from Taunton was Holly Ferling, and she proved to be the same today, bowling just three poor overs for 21 runs. She is unlikely to make the cut for the third ODI. For all the pre-tour talk she has looked out of her depth at this level. Rene Farrell will surely be preferred.
Inserted by Charlotte Edwards Australia never really looked to be in any kind of trouble. There was nothing in the wicket for seamers or spinners and once they had negotiated the first ten overs it was a matter of how many runs the Aussies could put on the board. England also bowled too many bad balls. Thanks to 104 off 98 balls from Aussie skipper Meg Lanning and a rather sedate 48 off 71 balls from Ellyse Perry, just missing out on her 7th consecutive 50, they managed to score 259/6. England did not help themselves with some sloppy fielding. Sarah Taylor dropped Lanning on 72 standing back behind the stumps, and Kate Cross dropped her again on 83 off her own bowling. Neither may have been overly significant, but they were indicative of a rather poor day in the field for England.
It meant England needed to hit a record 260 to win this second ODI and for the first 25 overs things seemed to be going according to plan. They reached the half-way stage at 122/1. They had lost Heather Knight for 38 off 51 balls with the score on 92, but that brought Sarah Taylor to the crease and the expectation always rises when she skips to the crease. To be fair the anxiety levels also rise, as you are never quite sure what you are going to get from Sarah. Knight had again not looked to be in great form, which must be a bit of a worry for England.
The first over after drinks was bowled by Schutt. She removed Charlotte Edwards who the Aussies had stifled by posting two short extra covers and bowling on her off stump. She likes to whip the ball to the leg side and when she tried to pull a slower ball from Schutt she missed and was bowled for 58 (her 46th ODI 50). This brought Amy Jones to the wicket, who had been a surprise pick at four for the these opening ODIs ahead of Lauren Winfield. For six balls she looked a lonely figure at the crease, and anxious to get off the mark she tried to work her seventh from Jonassen off the stumps to the off-side and was bowled. England needed Sarah Taylor to make this the time she went on and made a big score, but she could not. She fell for 43 off 39 balls, just before the batting powerplay, lbw to Jonassen to a full ball going back in front of her stumps and trying to work the ball to leg.
But it was the powerplay itself which scuppered England's chances of going 2-0 up in the ODI series and 4 points to nil up in the Ashes Series. England scored just 17 runs and lost four wickets. Greenway was lbw to Coyte, Elwiss was bowled by Schutt, Sciver was bowled by Coyte and Shrubsole was lbw to Schutt. Elwiss was bowled off an inside edge driving, but the other three were attempting to play straight balls to the leg-side. England were sunk at 181/8. They managed to get to 196 before they were bowled out, well short of the Aussies' total.
After the euphoria of the England middle-order batting in the first ODI this was back to the more familiar middle-order batting woes. Consistency is the middle-order's problem and it is not one that I can see being solved mid-series. We have to hope that one or two of the middle-order can come good again on Sunday, that Heather Knight finds some form and that we bowl better. Lines and length were poor today. It is going to be a tall ask and the Aussies are now favourites in my book to take the ODI series 2-1 in Worcester on Sunday.