This article was first written for and published by The Roar.
After four days of cricket at the picturesque North Sydney Oval, the Test between the Australian Women’s Cricket Team and the England Women’s Team ended in a draw.
By day four, Australia had a 128-run lead and hoped to get the ten English wickets on the final day to claim the win. Unfortunately it was not to be.
Despite the result, it was a weekend of many firsts. The first time that the Australian Women’s Cricket Team had had the opportunity to play a day-night Test. The first time the Australian Women’s Cricket Team had been able to contribute on the field to the incredible work that the McGrath Foundation does.
And five women made their Test debuts, including three Australians – Amanda-Jade Wellington, Tahlia McGrath and Beth Mooney, who all received their first baggy greens.
Here are some of my highlights from the four days of play.
Wicket walks and freakish catches
In England’s first innings on day one, I would love to tell you how incredible Alex Blackwell’s catch was to dismiss Lauren Winfield on four. Or how calmly confident Megan Schutt was when she took a catch to dismiss Georgia Elwiss on 28, or how impressed I was when Jess Jonassen took a catch to dismiss Katherine Brunt on one… but I can’t. Because I wasn’t watching.
There’s something in cricket called a wicket walk. Often fans, spectators and families of the players decide to take a bit of a stroll around the oval when the team in the field needs a wicket. I happened to be doing a wicket walk for each of these three wickets and missed them.
But one wicket I didn’t miss was Ellyse Perry’s fluky caught and bowled to dismiss Sarah Taylor on 29.
Ellyse could not stop laughing after she took the catch. It wasn’t the best delivery, but it got a result.
Sarah Taylor mishit the ball, it then bounced from Ellyse’s left arm into her right shoulder and then popped up for Ellyse to catch.
Sometimes cricket isn’t about bowling the best ball – it’s about taking advantage of opportunities presented to you. Ellyse certainly did that and had the whole crowd laughing along with her.
Sarah Taylor and her lightning hands
With England all out in their first innings for 280 and Australia in to bat early on day two, I was feeling confident.
Similar to England on day one it was a slow start for the Aussies. The crowd patiently waited for the final session for some more action – more boundaries, more swing and more wickets.
The most spectacular wicket of the day was a catch taken by Sarah Taylor to dismiss Elyse Villani for 14 off an Anya Shrubsole delivery.
Elyse Villani started her innings aggressively, but unfortunately edged the ball straight into the hands of Sarah Taylor, who was standing right up to the stumps.
Taylor has been exceptional throughout this Ashes series and has marvelled fans with her lightning fast hands.
Forget her being the best wicketkeeper in women’s cricket, I would almost go as far as saying she is the best wicketkeeper in the world at the moment.
A false start and one of the greatest innings of all time
Heading into Day 3 there was consensus – for Australia to have any chance at winning this Test match, Ellyse Perry had to score a century.
And that she did. But then she went one further and made a double century, finishing the innings unbeaten on 213*.
Seeing Ellyse embrace her best friend, Alyssa Healy, when she reached her century was a moment to behold.
There was a bit more tension surrounding the double century, though.
Australia was down to its very last batter, so I would also like to congratulate Megan Schutt, who is not known for her batting, for playing cautiously and doing her job of getting Ellyse back on strike to reach her 200. Her 1* is my favourite 1* that I have ever seen.
It was a tense couple of minutes. There was a false start, where Ellyse hit a ball over midwicket when on 194. The crowd thought it was a six and so did Ellyse, taking off her helmet and celebrating.
Unfortunately, the ball landed a couple of inches short and Ellyse had to settle herself again and demonstrate the intense concentration which saw her bat out the vast majority of the day.
In the post-match press conference, Ellyse jokingly blamed the crowd and said her premature celebrations followed their lead. She called this the ‘second most embarrassing thing’ she had done during the Test match.
But then came the double hundred. The third-highest score in women’s Test match cricket and the best by an Australian – ever.
Well done Pez – imagine what she could do if she had the opportunity to play Test cricket more frequently.
Speaking of which, I’ve read some articles which have criticised the quality of cricket played over the four days – particularly on days 1 and 2 where the run rate overall was just over two and a half runs per over.
There was a lack of intent on the first two days and both teams were playing cautiously rather than the aggressive cricket many fans enjoy.
In response to this, I remind everyone how few opportunities women have to play Test cricket. When Ellyse Perry was asked in a press conference about the last time she played Test cricket, she had to pause for a moment because she couldn’t really remember the occasion.
Many of the women playing over the last four days really enjoy the longer format of the game but just aren’t given the opportunity to play.
When our players are given the chance to play more long-form cricket, then we can more appropriately judge the quality of their play.
Additionally, there’s no need to compare the women’s game to the men’s game. They are different and should be treated as such.
For now, I’m just going to continue to enjoy the good vibes at North Sydney Oval and celebrate the fact that so many people are getting involved in the conversation about women’s cricket.
Australia now lead the series 6-4 heading into the final format of the series – the T20s.
The next game will be at North Sydney Oval on Friday 17 November and Australia remain just one win away from claiming the series.
If you’re in Sydney, you know what to do – get your bum on a seat on Friday to watch Australia (hopefully) reclaim the Ashes.