Veteran Australian player Ashleigh Gardner is often regarded as one of the best spin-bowling all-rounders of recent times. Besides, pioneers of the game like Lisa Sthalekar regarded her as one of the successful by-products of the WBBL. Though she has decent records in limited-over cricket and has played match-winning knocks and spells, with her performance in the Trent Bridge Tets she stumped her abilities in the longer format of the games as well.
Ashleigh Gardner, the girl from Muruwari Community, became the 2nd only Aboriginal player to represent in a test match after Faith Thomas in the 2019 Ashes. Atch that s curtailed by the rain, Ashleigh Gardner came to bat as the no 9 batter and remained unbeaten on 5 from 11 Australia pull the curtain of their batting on 420/8 as Beth Mooney fell for 51.
On a pitch that provided little assistance to the bowlers, she bowled 18 overs for 1/36, Katherine Brunt being her maiden test wicket. In the 2nd innings, her 7 from 5 came when the match was destined to be drawn.
In her next series against India, on a surface that was suitable for the seam bowlers, Gardner bowled the most overs, 30 for her 1/52. Her wicket was that of Smriti Mandhana’s. Mandhaana was batting on 135 and India was truly on top with 195/1 in the 69th over. So Ash put up a trap for her.
McGrath was placed at a catching mid-off near the bowler, Ashleigh Gardner looped up a lovely tempter outside off, and Mandhana skipped out but it just dropped on her late, she drove on the up but hit it in the air straight to McGrath.
Her maiden half-century came at a point when Australia was in bother losing 4 wickets in 119 runs. Along with Ellyse Perry, she resisted the Indian fast bowling trio towards her 86 balls 51 which saw the Australian score sail closer to 228, the score needed to avoid follow-on. Once she fell, the Australian lower order suffered a collapse too.
In the 2022 Ashes, she hit her 2nd half-century in the test match. Before the Trent Bridge Ashes test match, Ash only had 4 wickets in 5 innings with an average of more than 40. With two half-centuries her batting average too touched almost 40 with 157 runs in 5 innings.
Ashleigh Gardner, came out to bat when Australia lost 3 quick wickets and was reduced to 226/5 in the first innings. A couple of overs later, Perry got out on 99. Australia was 238/6. Along with Sutherland, added 77 for the 7th wicket with a personal score of 40 which included a six against Dunkley. Ash was brought into the attack by Healy when England survived the opening threat f the Australian seamers.
Out of the three spinners, Ashleigh Gardner produced a turn from the pitch and batters seemed uncomfortable against her. While King and Jess Jonassen (bowled only five overs) failed to make any dent in the England batting order, she chipped in with important wickets of Knight (57), and Nat Sciver-Brunt (78) and then broke the defence of Tammy Beaumont (208). She ended on 4/99 in more than 25 overs.
Chasing a modest total of 257, (though highest if successfully chased) England was rushing 55/0 after the 10th over. Tahlia McGrath later in an interview said that she thought that the match was slipping away from them, standing in the boundary. As a last dice of the arsenal, Ashleigh Gardner was brought into the attack, quickly than in the first inning.
Women’s Ashes 2023: Ashleigh Gardner stepped up with the ball in the one-off Test
And that seemed to be the turning point of the match. In her very first over she removed Tammy Beaumont who scored a record-breaking 208 in the first innings. The ball was tossed up wide of off, Tammy looked to dig it out but it goes straight into the hands of Mooney at first slip. She is walking off the field and the umpire confirms it is out.
Ashleigh Gardner got a wicket in her first ball of the spell and it was the beginning of the colossal destruction. caught at slip. T-Mac with her immaculate line and length kept the pressure from the other end. In her next over, Natalie Sciver-Brunt fell to her, trying to play a pull. Nat tried to play pull against a full delivery outside off stump but failed to make the timing right.
Garth takes an excellent catch running in from the short leg to keep England three down. Heather Knight got out to one that spun back sharply from the fourth stump and the England skipper could do nothing. Knight moved across a little bit and goes for a flick on the back foot and gets hit on the front pad. DRS confirms Knight is trapped lbw. 3 key wickets in three overs and England from 55/0 became 73/4 in 5 overs.
Losing Nat and Knight in space of one over almost broke the backbone of the chase. Gardner bowled 9 overs from one end and her figure was 9-1-33-3 at the end of 4th day. Egland lost 5 wickets on the 4th day n a mere 116 runs and their only hope was Danny Wyatt along with the lower-order batters.
Healy trusted Ashleigh Gardner once again to wrap up the England resistance on the 5th day morning. Kate Cross who was supporting Wyatt by taking singles survived a few times and edge flew past the slip but soon became Ash Gradner’s 4th victim when she went from the drive and edged straight to the keeper. She completed her maiden 5 wicket haul when Amy was stumped by Healy.
Prior to that ball, Ashleigh Gardner was sent to the boundary as Amy came down the track a little to play a brilliant cover drive. But this time the ball was a bit shorter and wide and Jones charged down to miss the ball completely. Ecclestone was given leg before the wicket was Lauren Filler was castled. By that time the fate of the match was sealed.
As Wyatt went to play a slog sweep, missed it and found herself between wicket and ball. Bowling with a spread-out field. It took her 11 more overs to claim all five wickets to earn Australia an 89-run victory.
Her figure of 20-1-66-8 is the best by an Australian Woman in test innings. She is the 2nd after Neetu David to pick up 8 wickets in test innings. Her figure of 12/ 165 is the best by an Australian bowler while 2nd best after Shaiza Khan’s 13 wicket haul.
After the match, Ashleigh Gardener said that she never thought of that dream while mentioning that she did think about how to wrap up the English tailender, awake in the night. Beth Mooney credited her record-breaking performance to the way she improved her bowling in WBBL last season and was one of the picks of the wicket-takers.
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