England Academy kicked off their tour of Sri Lanka with a convincing win over their hosts on a good batting track at the Sinhalese Sports Club in Colombo.
Having won the toss skipper Fran Wilson elected to bat and Emma Lamb and Evelyn Jones took 28 off the first five overs - I was going to say without breaking a sweat, but on a stifling hot and humid day in Sri Lanka's capital, that would have been completely inappropriate. But in the sixth over Lamb clipped a ball to mid-on and set off for the single. Jones was not on the same wavelength and remained firmly rooted at the non-striker's end. Lamb ((9) attempted to return home, but was run out comfortably. England were 31/1. Holly Armitage joined the fray at number three, but within three overs both Jones and she were back on the England balcony under the whirring fans. Jones (26) clipped a full-toss to midwicket and Armitage (1) hooked a ball straight down deep square leg's throat. England were 46/3.
Bath duo Fran Wilson and Sophie Luff set about rebuilding the innings. Initially they nudged and nurdled and scampered quick singles, but as they grew in confidence Wilson hit some delightful extra cover drives and Luff got on her dancing shoes, advancing down the wicket to the myriad of tiny Sri Lankan spin bowlers.
Both batted at an even tempo and both reached their fifties in the 28th over of the game. Next over Luff was gone for 54, advancing again but hoisting one to long on. The pair had added 103 for the third wicket. Kate Cross then joined Wilson, but she had little to do but nudge the odd single as Wilson cut loose. The pair added 76 for the fourth wicket, of which Cross contributed just 9. Wilson had advanced in the meantime to an effortless 115. She was out bowled advancing down the wicket and effectively yorking herself, but by this time England were well set on 225/5 with 12 overs to come.
Ellie Threlkeld (6) came and went quickly but Cross came out of her shell and hit some good straight shots before she walked past one and was stumped for 33. The tail did its best to wag with Alex Macdonald making 29 before she was caught at long on. Sophie Ecclestone bagged a first ball duck, but Beth Langston (14*) and Alex Hartley (3*) saw England through to an imposing 311/9.
In reply Sri Lanka never looked like keeping up with the run rate. Kate Cross and Freya Davies opened the bowling and kept things tight with Cross making the initial breakthrough in the 5th over thanks to a catch by Langstone. The second wicket was a run out through a direct hit from Luff. Sri Lanka were 42/2 in the 12th over. As the heat took its toll on the fast bowlers the spinners were thrown the ball - Butler, Hartley and Ecclestone all bowled tightly without there appearing to be much turn. Butler claimed the third wicket with Sri Lanka having plodded to 85 in the 22nd over. The game continued to drift along with Sri Lanka content to take 4/5 per over mainly in ones and twos. Having made it to 148/3 in the 35th over there was a sudden flurry of wickets - one each for Langston, Cross and Ecclestone and another Luff run out. At 159/7 the game was effectively over and Wilson brought her bowlers back for short two over spells and even brought on part-time spinner Lamb to bowl five overs. She accounted for the eight wicket as a full toss was bunted to Wilson at midwicket and Butler took the ninth thanks to a good catch from Cross at deep cow. The Sri Lanka tail enjoyed the last 10 overs adding 71 to their total, but still finished 75 short of England's score.
The game took over seven and a half hours to complete in stifling conditions and many of the England girls looked shattered at the end. They have a day to rest before they meet the Australian Shooting Stars on Tuesday at the Panagora Stadium.
Batting (unofficial) - Emma Lamb 9, Evelyn Jones 26, Hollie Armitage 1, Fran Wilson 115, Sophie Luff 54, Kate Cross 33, Ellie Threlkeld 6, Alex Macdonald 29, Beth Langston 14*, Sophie Ecclestone 0, Alex Hartley 3*
Bowling (unofficial) - Kate Cross 6-0-22-2; Freya Davies 5-0-18-0; Alex Macdonald 6-1-33-0, Beth Langston 6-1-26-1; Steph Butler 8-0-36-2; Alex Hartley 8-0-27-0; Sophie Ecclestone 6-0-27-1; Emma Lamb 5-0-34-1