A Sophie Ecclestone-inspired late revival from England overshadowed Australia’s 328/7 on Day 1 of the one-off Women’s Ashes 2023 Test at Trent Bridge, which was plagued by rain. Ellyse Perry almost missed out on a brilliant century but set up Australia’s total, which was shared by England and Australia in the match.
The tumultuous morning session was rather balanced. Australian openers established a strong foundation after choosing to bat first, but debutant Phoebe Litchfield’s wicket was lost on 23 due to poor judgement.
The adolescent chose not to review the LBW call after exciting the audience with a few exquisite drives, giving Kate Cross and England the important advantage. Perry did use it, though, and survived the opening pitch, preventing English rookie Lauren Filer from taking a wicket off her first-ever Test cricket ball.
Perry resurrected Australia’s innings by partnering with Beth Mooney, who had a scratchy appearance throughout their 48-run partnership. Even though Mooney gained two lifelines, her good fortune eventually ran out when Filer caught her poking at a length ball outside off, allowing Cross in the gully to make an easy catch.
By striking Nat Sciver-Brunt for back-to-back boundaries on either side of the deck in each of her first four deliveries, McGrath made her intentions clear right away. Ecclestone’s clean morning spell of 5-1-7-0 didn’t stop Australia from posting 100/2 by lunch.
The Australian dominance forced the hosts to work hard for the whole of the afternoon as Perry and McGrath amassed a 119-run partnership. Throughout their time in the centre, the duo appeared to be in perfect control, and it showed in the visitors’ scoring rate, which remained above 4 RPO.
In spite of the thickening cloud cover overhead, England became anxious for a breakthrough and tossed the ball to the number one bowler, Ecclestone, who duly supplied the much-needed respite. McGrath, who had a 67-ball half-century and was closing up on Perry, was out shortly before early Tea was mandated by terrible weather in the one-off Test of the Women’s Ashes 2023.
On the opposite side of the rain delay, England’s comeback continued as the spinner proceeded to wreak havoc by having stand-in skipper Alyssa Healy bowled in the space of three deliveries, Jess Jonassen caught at short leg, on review.
On the opening day of the Ashes Test at Trent Bridge, it appeared that England might as well board the team bus and return to Loughborough immediately. Ellyse Perry will score runs in a test match whether it’s played in the rain or the sun over four or five days.
Tahlia McGrath appeared to be a rock-solid partner; the two scored 78 runs in the first hour following lunch, with McGrath tapping a single through point to complete their century partnership. Then Sophie Ecclestone appeared and began resembling the usual Sophie Ecclestone. First, she turned one behind McGrath’s bat, rendering her flawless forward defence completely useless as she fell for 61.
Then, after 90 minutes of action were wiped out by rain during the afternoon and evening sessions, Jess Jonassen naively attempted to sweep the left-armer, but was only able to glove it into Tammy Beaumont’s hands at short leg. Although the umpire, Anna Harris, seemed unconvinced, Heather Knight at slip was, and DRS took care of the rest.
Two more balls later, Ecclestone struck again, knocking out Alyssa Healy’s off stump and sending her back to the pavilion for her third straight Test duck with a quicker, fuller ball that spun away from her.
Even though Australia was 226 for 5, Ellyse Perry, the biggest wicket of all, escaped England. She had mostly shown herself to be content to duck under bouncers from the Radcliffe Road End debutante Lauren Filer, though occasionally she would rock back and cut or pull her to the boundary. Perry had advanced to 99 by the day’s 60th over, Filer’s 12th.
She swung her bat and found Nat Sciver-Brunt’s hands at gully, giving Filer her second wicket of the day, and in an instant, it was over. Two of the match’s four Test debutants got a chance to perform when Australia won the toss and Healy elected to bat.
The duty of starting the batting fell to 20-year-old Phoebe Litchfield, who had only participated in five international games. The seasoned Beth Mooney was at the other end, but for the first 40 minutes of the game, you may not have known which one of them was batting in her debut Test of the Women’s Ashes 2023.
Mooney advanced to seven off of her first 20 balls, came dangerously close to bowling a caught-and-bowled into Kate Cross’s outstretched right hand, and was eventually bowled out at gully four overs later by a diving Danni Wyatt.
While comfortably protecting the good-length balls, Litchfield played two lavish square drives for four off first Lauren Bell and then Cross. The first ball of Filer’s international career, who was introduced into the attack in the 18th over, could hardly have been more dramatic; it jagged off the pitch and struck none other than Ellyse Perry in the pads, prompting the umpire, Sue Redfern, to elevate her finger.
Naturally, dream beginnings can swiftly develop into nightmares. In the ninth over of the morning, when Litchfield shoulder-shouldered arms to Cross, was given out LBW when the ball moved back in, and marched off the pitch, disregarding Mooney’s plea to send the decision upstairs, her relative inexperience was finally made clear. Hawkeye proving that the ball would have missed off stump was a novice mistake.
When Perry brought DRS into the discussion on the basis that he had an inside track, Filer’s personal celebrations were cruelly cut short. However, when Mooney edged to Cross at a gully a few minutes later, there was no such error, and Filer was surrounded by her teammates.
Eventually, Filer was able to celebrate Ellyse Perry’s dismissal in the Women’s Ashes 2023 test. One downside for England was that 99 runs had intervened. Ecclestone might have brought them back into the game, but Australia being Australia, not even her enormous consecutive 28-over spell—which ended only as the new ball was due—was sufficient to save England on this occasion.
Australia had lost four wickets from a fairly comfortable 202/2 for just 36 runs more. Gardner (40), though, and Sutherland (39*), teamed together to contain the damage. The seventh-wicket pair’s extended play under lights further prolonged England’s search for another breakthrough. Australia passed 300 runs in the 79th over as the runs began to flow once more.
As soon as the second new ball was made available, England snatched it and quickly found success. In the waning moments of the game, Lauren Bell rejoined the attack and ultimately scored, shattering the obstinate partnership of seven wickets.
On 40, Gardner poked at a ball that was moving slightly away from her and sent the edge for the keeper, who dove to her right to dismiss the Australian, but not before she drove Sophia Dunkley’s extremely sporadic leg-spin over the top for six.
Sutherland was joined by Alana King as Australia batted out the final 23 balls to reach 328/7 in the test of the Women’s Ashes 2023. With Australia on 328 for seven and work still, to be done, England may be regretting their choice to select only one frontline spinner in their playing XI.
Women’s Ashes 2023 One-off Test Day 1 Brief Score:
Australia 328/7 (Ellyse Perry 99, Tahlia McGrath 61; Sophie Ecclestone 3-71, Lauren Filer 2-65) vs England.