Monday, 23 October 2017

First Ashes ODI - talking points

So first blood to the Aussies in the Ashes Series, and the three ICCWC ODIs.

First thing to say is well done to the ground staff at Allan Border Field for getting the game on at all. It had hardly stopped raining in Brisbane for the past week, and with no reserve days now for ICCWC games (a retrograde step in my view) it would have been a shame if there had been no contest.

As for the "sell-out" crowd....well it wasn't. CA had limited initial ticket sales to 2,000 and then conjured up a new temporary stand for another 500 tickets, which you could still get the day before the game. Quite why the limit was 2,500 when the ground clearly holds more is a mystery. No doubt health and safety reasons. The crowds at women's games can get very rowdy!! Still 2,000 is a big improvement on previous crowds in Australia, so perhaps things are heading in the right direction.

And they saw a good game. England were probably 30/40 runs short of a decent total, and the Aussies made a bit of a meal of chasing it down, but got there in the end. England's top order will have been annoyed that none of them went on to make a significant score. Lauren Winfield rode her luck, but looked to have found some touch when she was run out by some poor running with Sarah Taylor, who herself made a decent looking 30-odd (how many times have we said that?). Heather Knight and Nat Sciver looked a bit scratchy, but Fran Wilson was her busy self, before giving her wicket away. From there down though England were poor. Brunt, Gunn and Marsh were almost trying too hard.

For the Aussies leg-spinner Amanda-Jade Wellington came on in the 13th over and immediately found a good line, good dip and plenty of spin. She will be a threat throughout this series, but the fact that she does not seem to have a googly or any other significant variations, means that England really should be able to find a way of coping with her. Better use of the feet and the sweep shot are two areas they might work on. Wellington did not get the wickets she perhaps deserved, but she allowed Ash Gardner to take the glory at the other end, as England looked for release shots.

Gardner had a good day, with her late contribution with the bat (27 off 18 balls), taking all the pressure off player of the match Alex Blackwell, who was the backbone of a rather fragile Aussie batting effort. Who knows what might have happened had Alex Hartley snaffled an easy caught and bowled chance when Blackwell was on 35?
Hartley had worked hard to create the chance, and the ball to get rid of Perry was a beauty, but her fielding off her own bowling is a concern.

Still the Aussies almost contrived to give England the game, as Tahlia McGrath was inexplicably sent in ahead of Ash Gardner. Her 7 off 26 balls meant the Aussie run rate gradually climbed, and despite her encouraging words after the game, Alex Blackwell must have been quite relieved when she holed out off Brunt. I am not sure that McGrath solves the Aussies' sixth bowler problem, but then I don't think they have a solution - Cheatle (in current form) and Vakarewa are no solution either. It is an area England will hope to expose.

I doubt Australia will change the team for game number two at Coff's Harbour on Thursday, unless the pitch looks like a bunsen*, but for England I think they have to find a spot for Sophie Ecclestone. She could be a straight swap for Marsh or take the place of Jenny Gunn. Either will weaken the England batting line-up, but only slightly. Ecclestone is no worse a bat than Gunn or Marsh, if truth be told.

The only other change I would make would be to move Nat Sciver to 4 and Knight down to 5. Sciver is a game changer and the fact that she rarely gets in before half the overs have been used up seems to be a waste to me. Ultimately I'd like to see her at 3, perhaps shifting Taylor to 5 to give her more freedom later in the innings. But it is not up to me. It is down to Mark Robinson, who has not done too much wrong over the last two years he has been in charge.

Set you alarm clocks for 4.40am on Thursday for Round Two!!


* bunsen burner - cricket rhyming slang for a turner

1 comment:

  1. Very enjoyable match and England are now certainly playing a lot better than they were when we last faced Australia in Ashes ODIs - 2 defeats at Bristol and Worcester (along with alarming capitulations) spring to mind. Those seem like the dark old days now. The side now have a lot more fight about them and look like they could pick up some points soon.

    Of course the hard facts are that they'll have to, to stay in the series. If Australia win the 2nd ODI as well, their retention of the Ashes is almost sewn up. They only need to reach 8 points and will already be on 4. At that point, the Test becomes vital as even if England were to win the 3rd ODI, a Test defeat would then be curtains for hopes of getting the trophy back even with 3 T20 wins. This is why I think that there's no way England are favourites for this series! The opening defeat really puts us under the kosh.