... and you'll find the latest links to newspaper and web site reports
on the Ashes on the same page.
Let's kick off with some really startling news that for some reason escaped me
until now. I am still trying to get my head around this but apparently
there are no reserve days set up for this series. I am assured that's
true - yes I really am. I know - you can't believe it either! While much in the 21st century causes me
puzzlement, this just takes my breath away!
I am searching for explanations. Let's try out a few.
1. Australia only need to tie this series, England need to win
it so from Australia's point of view, the more rained off games the
better especially after establishing an early lead which is always
likely when your opponents are "straight off the plane". Although, as I type half-way through this 2nd ODI and with the
Australians having mustered 300 runs (all but a smidgen) they should
be praying for the storm to be over quickly rather than England who
may be happy to sit this one out.
2. The Australians really don't rate this series very highly.
Basically it's not worth the effort. With all the hullabaloo from
down-under this seems unlikely. However the WBBL seems to be what the
authorities there would prefer to push. Maybe option (1) above is more
reasonable. Sad day if true...
3. Another reason which at this point evades me...
Anyway rising early but not at the start of the match, I have been
scribbling on my pad at the side of the keyboard. The most obvious
thoughts as the hail comes down, is that on the England fielding. With
the notable exceptions of Knight and Taylor it was pretty woeful at
times. Catches win matches they say and the obvious corollary is that
dropping them doesn't. A number of very catchable chances went down.
Other things noted: the England coach has made remarks in the media
that he's very happy with Mickey Mouse (sorry... short)
boundaries. He may be regretting that in this match. I'll be curious
to compare the tally of 6s by the two sides at the end of the game.
[I have since checked and the total is England 1
Australia 6. That means Australia have 10 more runs that hitting a 4
would have accomplished. It simply shows that for women - even with
tiny boundaries - trying to hit 6s rather than 4s, bearing the number
of times you will be caught trying, makes the whole exercise not just
unproductive but indicates suicidal tendencies]! [This
was made as plain as the nose on anyone's face in ODI3 -
see below] It
also means fitness isn't really tested as it might be, as 3s become
impossible and much of the art of cricket is lost. Ironically, when
many will say isn't women's cricket so much more exciting now more
runs are scored (and in many ways it is), it will be meaningless
comparing team's or individual innings of a decade ago, let alone
further back in time, as the game has been handed in this way (and in
many others too it must be said) to the batsmen on a plate. As
I've shown above it's not the 6s that will make much of a difference
but the 4s if you are only considering pitch sizes. How
much more meaningful were some of Claire Taylor's innings when she
played on pitches with what I'll euphemistically call, larger
boundaries, (I should have perhaps typed, "proper boundaries"), where
she had to hit a 4 not a 3 plus a bonus point. I am well aware "it's
the same for both sides" but if you decided to shorten the pitch to 10
yards and play with a soft ball then that would still apply. It just
wouldn't be cricket in the full sense of the word.
But let's hand out credit where it is due. The Australians batted
extremely well, and Haynes quite brilliantly. Some, but not a great
deal, of slogging from the Aussie skipper but what many commentators are pleased to call
"proper cricket shots". To me that makes it all a much greater
pleasure to watch. While the Australians carried out their task
efficiently and at times with real finesse, England failed to grasp
some of the basics. If things don't change quickly - well - we all
know where the Ashes are finishing up.
And the second innings starts as England supporters will have feared.
Why do so many England players insist on playing around their front
pad before they are "in"? Been a mystery to me for some time
but seems to depend on the fact that so many have become 'leg-side
players'. If you want to be an international you need to be able to
play 360 degrees and preferably pretty straight when new at the
crease. Just take a look at the wagon wheel I once compiled at a match
some years ago. Can you guess whose knock it was?
Let me give you a clue. Now retired, some years ago in fact, I have
never known a player work harder at her game. She was always
considered the complete player and the terribly drawn wagon wheel
above gives you some inkling of why. I'll tell all later. I put this
up as a curiosity while wondering how a similar tracing would look for
many players today. No doubt the modern analyst could tell you. So poor am I at annotating things, however, that I
have forgotten what F.E. stood for. Ah, well!
If you want things to remember from this match, as an England supporter
that is, then remember Haynes fine knock. (Yes, I know she plays for
Australia but if you enjoy watching someone at the top of their form,
then this was worth watching and more than once if you have it
recorded). From the point of view of England then remember Brunt's
first international 50. A player who has always been a 'leg-up' from
most bowlers when holding a bat, she has looked a genuine all-rounder
for some time now and this was richly deserved when, as the saying
goes, all about her were losing their heads. It shows that
you might be fighting in a lost cause but you can still show what
you're made of.
Rachel Haynes (Left) and katherine Brunt (both shots from 2009)
From England's viewpoint the next ODI is a 'must-win'. Just to remind
you - Australia only need 8 points and, if all goes wrong for England
on Sunday, it'll take a miracle for the Ashes to return to the
Unable to watch the match on what is yesterday night to an
England-based viewer and able to catch only a couple of minute highlight
package (not that you can call it that for less than 3 minutes), I was
totally amazed at how quickly my point about women hitting 6s had such
powerful evidential support. As an England supporter it is great to know
that no one in the Australian camp reads my blog - or at least in the
unlikely event they do, don't take it seriously. Why do I suggest that? Well
I woke up to the news that, of the 9 Australian wickets to fall, 5 went down
to deep-field/boundary catches. Now it's possible that not all of those
players intended to try for 6 runs but from the limited video available I
would say at least 4 gave that impression. England should be very grateful
they did! Their batsmen need to learn from the Australian's mistake.
Looking at the scorecard also reveals that Knight and Taylor both managed
scoring rates over 100 hitting only one 6 between them, but 17 4s. There's a
lesson there for anyone who cares to learn it.
It also seems either lights have a deleterious effect on the pitch with the
associated dew that often appears, or else the effects of days of rain had
largely worn off as batsmen on both sides were able to put together
reasonable scores. Notable from the card are Healy's 71 at all but a run a
ball and Taylor and Knight's contributions at better than the 100 runs/100
ball mark. Knight justifiably took the Player of the Match Award, and the
England tail deserve some credit for although no one scored big runs they
stuck with her to enable the England innings to finish with something of a
flourish. Megan Schutt starred with the ball with 4-44 although other
reporters have suggested that her behaviour wasn't always what one would
call in "the Spirit of Cricket".
England now desperately need a win at the North Sydney Oval for an
Australian one would mean the Ashes could not be reclaimed, and a draw would
leave the daunting prospect of the necessity of winning all three T20s, not
an impossible feat but an unlikely one if Healy keeps batting the way she
has and Perry is not (obviously) going to be expected to bowl 10 overs and
then bat for ages! perhaps they should keep in their minds England winning
the World Cup on this very ground in 2009.
A Victorious England Team celebrate their World Cup Win
North Sydney Oval, 2009