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On This Day: Rachael Hey-hoe Flint Hit the Highest Individual Score in Test Cricket as Captain

Heyhoe Flint was a thorn to the Australian side that season. Though she had an average below 36 prior to that series against Australia she was phenomenal in 1976. The first two tests of the Ashes was ended in a draw and Rachael Flint had been the backbone of English batting in those two tests along with Enid Bakewell. 110 in the 1st Test at Manchester was followed by a 49 at Birmingham. As the previous two tests ended without a result, it was decided that the 3rd test would be played over four days at The Oval. It was a new thing in Women Test as all the tests used to be of three days.

Batting first, England was shattered by the Australian fast bowling.  Raelee Thompson (3/31) and  Karen Price (3/6) paired up to wrap up the England innings. It’s because of determined batting of Lynn Thomas (72) and support from Megan Lear  (21) took the total to 134.  Thomas batted for about 3 hours for her  72 and added 62 runs for the 5th wicket with Lear. In reply,  Australia gained a mammoth lead of 245 runs. Sharon Tredrea scored 63 and Jans Lumsden scored 123. Lumsden became the first Australian batter to score a Test century at The Oval.

By the beginning of the day 3 Australia was in commanding position. England started their innings with an intention to survive two days against the fearsome Aussie attack. Till lunch, in 22 overs England batted steadily and scored only 25 runs without any casualties. They didn’t mind the slow run-rate as survival became the most important thing. Half an hour later after the lunch, the hero of the first innings, Lynn Thomas was sent back to the pavilion. Just before the drinks, England lost their 2nd wicket for 66 runs. England skipper came into the middle.

Flint had scored only 12 in the first innings but she was determined to do better in the next. Flint, subdued her natural attacking play in order to save the test match. With June Stephenson she added 40 runs for the 4th wicket in more than 120 minutes. She gradually became confident and was piercing the gaps well and kept the scoreboard taking. When it seemed that both the batters would play through the day, Stepson got run-out. In the meantime, Flint completed her half-century in 144 minutes. In 123 over Australia managed to score 151 runs at the lose of 4 wickets.

She continued her touch in the next day as well and brought up her 3rd century and 2nd in the series. Megan Lear and she added another 120 runs to avoid the horror of an innings defeat. Australia’s nightmare didn’t end there. One of their front line seamer who could have destroyed the tailender got injured during the match. Sharon Tredrea was blowing as fast she can but Flint too was at her very best. She ducked the good balls while never hesitate to punish the deserving ones.

In one such occasion, Flint hooked the ball which went to Thopmson very fast, clipped the finger and went to four. The ball in her journey to four broke the ring finger of Thompson as well. Without their front line pacer, Tredrea was forced to take the extra workload which made her ineffective in the dying hours. Out of 264 overs that England batted, Rachael was there for more than 200 overs in her way to 179. Her innings lasted for more than 9 hours and hit her career-best knock before departing.

England in contrast to their batting display in the first innings, projected a fighting, grim batting to save the test match. They batted for two days and out of the 264 overs they played to their 326, 157 overs were maiden. Rachael Heyhoe Flint led from the front to deny the Test victory to Australia. The series ended in a draw. Her 179, even after 44 Years of its occurrence stands as the highest individual score as the Captain in any Test innings. 



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