Australia chased down England’s total of 132/9 to win the first T20 and with it retain the Women’s Ashes.
England recovered from a perilous 16/4 to post a competitive target but Beth Mooney’s unbeaten 86 inspired the hosts to a six-wicket win.
It means that Australia go 8-4 up in the multi-format series points tally, an unassailable lead given they hold the trophy.
Transitioning from Test cricket to T20 can often be strange, but the harum-scarum start to England’s innings was particularly chaotic.
Heather Knight was given out off her second ball – the second of the match – only to be brought back to the middle with a reprieve after a no-ball was given.
She made her way back to the middle only for the umpires to undo their no-ball and send her back on her way much to the confusion of everyone watching.
Knight was eventually given out caught behind.
One became two shortly after when Sarah Taylor was given out lbw to Megan Schutt and what followed was a comparative period of calm, 19 balls for Nat Sciver and Tammy Beaumont before the latter was brilliantly caught by Alyssa Healy off Ellyse Perry’s first ball.
Perry struck immediately afterwards, Katherine Brunt following Beaumont back to the hutch first ball with the same mode of dismissal, caught behind.
At 16/4 in the fifth England were in a certain state of disarray.
With the knowledge that nothing but a win would do you may have expected them to go back in their shells but Sciver and Danni Wyatt combined to counter-punch and get their side back in the game.
Wyatt – playing her first game of the tour – hit two fours from Jess Jonassen’s third over, the sixth of the game, to signal that England weren’t about to shut up shop.
Wyatt and Sciver put on 64 for the fifth wicket – an enterprising partnership that had its fair share of heart-in-mouth moments but one that was exactly what England required.
Sciver was initially more watchful before bringing out some of her more enterprising strokes – she fell for a crucial 26 in the 13th over, lbw to Delissa Kimmince.
That wicket didn’t halt Wyatt’s charge and she progressed to her half-century, her first in international cricket and an ideal innings given the circumstances.
With England eyes turning towards a target of 140, she was run out in the same over, courtesy of a fine piece of work by Ashleigh Gardner.
Jenny Gunn came and went for four as England threw their bat at it across the last three overs.
An important unbeaten 23 from Fran Wilson saw England reach 132/9, a competitive total – not least given their struggles at 16/4.
Australia started their reply well – Brunt going for 14 from the first over as Beth Mooney got the scoreboard ticking.
Brunt returned to see the back of Alyssa Healy, caught well at deep-square leg by Wyatt – enjoying her international return – but Mooney hit her for another six to see Australia finish the powerplay on 45/1.
The left-hander continued attacking every bowler, getting in and out of the over with intent and when Ellyse Villani hit 10 off two balls in Alex Hartley’s first over the Australians looked well set.
Villani fell to Ecclestone just before the halfway point but the equation remained in the hosts’ favour, especially with Mooney at the crease.
Despite three more wickets falling, Australia reached their target with 25 balls to spare, securing the 2017 Women’s Ashes.
Report courtesy of the ECB