This piece was first written for and published for the Roar.
Last night the Women’s Ashes continued, with the first of three T20s being played at North Sydney Oval in front of a crowd well in excess of 5,000.
This T20 saw the Australian team defeat the English team by six wickets and in doing so, the Aussies have retained the Ashes.
For the Australians there were a couple of stand out players. Megan Schutt had a career-best evening, ending up with figures of 4-22. This performance was key as part of Australia’s bowling attack which restricted the English team to 9-132.
This was quite a good score considering that England were, at one stage, 4/16. Captain Heather Knight was out off the second ball, Sarah Taylor departed in the next over and Ellyse Perry found herself on a hat trick in the fifth over when she dismissed Tammy Beaumont and Katherine Brunt.
The night belonged to Beth Mooney however who was unbeaten and managed to score 86 runs off 56 balls. This innings was Beth’s first half century in the international T20 format and her final score of 86 was the highest score in a T20 in Australia.
It was quite fitting that Beth remained at the crease for the entire innings and was there to celebrate when the winnings runs were scored.
In the end it was too easy for the Australians – managing to #BeatEngland with 25 balls to spare.
This win saw Australia claim another two points in the series and therefore retain the Ashes, now leading England in the series 8-4.
So what did we learn from this game?
We learnt that heading into the next T20 contest, Australia need to work on their fielding. In the Australian innings there were six dropped catches. Most notably, Dani Wyatt was dropped on 11 and then again on 12. Dani ended up on 50 and was the highest score for England. The match could have been very different had she departed at the start of her innings.
Jess Jonassen and Delissa Kimmince each struggled in the field and I know that both these players will work hard for the remainder of the week to make sure that their hands are more trustworthy in Canberra.
Interestingly a couple of people have questioned whether Australia claiming the Ashes with such an easy win and so early in the series is bad for women’s cricket. In response I say that this series went on longer than I thought.
When Australia won the first two Test matches, they took a 4-0 lead in the series and looked extremely comfortable. England managed to fight their way back with a comprehensive win in the third ODI and truth be told, Australia could have ended the series with a win in the Test Match.
It’s positive to have seen the series continue into the T20 format and I dare anyone to tell the fans at North Sydney Oval that the contest lacked excitement.
And speaking of the crowd – what about it! I didn’t hear it announced at the ground, but it seemed to be well in excess of 5,000.
This tells me that Australia is really beginning to embrace women’s cricket but particularly in the T20 format. The WBBL is heading into its third instalment this summer so Australians are very used to watching plenty of the women competing in the Ashes play in the T20 format – both from the Australian team and the English team.
Cricket Australia have done an exceptional job at really turning the T20 format into an entertainment concept – plenty of music, lights, colour, big hits and affordable. It was great to see so many families out to support the Australian tam – and not just dads with their daughters, but dads with their sons too.
Rest assured, Australia may have won the Ashes, but I expect them to bring the same sense of commitment, urgency and professionalism to the remaining two T20 games in Manuka.
Australia should not be content to simply defeat England – I know each player will be working hard to ensure that the final score line is 12-4 in favour of Australia.
But for now, it is time to celebrate – Australia have retained the Ashes once again.
The next T20 will be in Canberra on Sunday afternoon and I expect a big crowd.
One final comment – yesterday Channel Nine announced its commentary team for the men’s Ashes which will call the 2017-2018 series which starts on November 23rd.
Unsurprisingly, the commentary team is unchanged and does not include anyone other than a white male.
The commentary team is made up of Shane Warne, Michael Slater, Ian Chappell, Bill Lawry, Mark Nicholas, Ian Healey, Mark Taylor and Michael Clarke.
I’m not sure why I expect different from Channel Nine – but it is simply not good enough to have a commentary team which lacks any form of diversity at all.
Maybe one day we’ll be fortunate enough to hear talented women like Lisa Sthalekar or Mel Jones as part of the commentary team.
For now though, it will be the same old, male and stale commentary we’ve been subjected to for years. Looks like it’s ABC Grandstand again for me this summer.