It’s England’s long-term policy to catch up with Australia and eventually overtake it. Two games played yesterday show the distance still to travel.
On the second day of the test England were saved from ignominy by another outstanding performance from their captain. Heather Knight scored her second test century (127*) to defy the champions, but her most successful batting partner was No 10 Sophie Ecclestone (27*), who stayed with her to the close. England, needing to finish the day well ahead of Australia’s 337-7 to stand a chance of victory, find themselves still 102 runs behind with two days left.
The other happy contributions to England’s display were Katherine Brunt’s 5-60 and Amy Jones’ record-equalling six catches. They included some startlers, but perhaps the most significant was the catch off Ellyse Perry, simply because it could erase the memory of the two drops off skiers under lights against the West Indies last year.
Those were a passing blip in a great career as a keeper.
Far too many batters failed to answer the need for the utmost concentration at the crease, allying defiant defence with the ability to put the poor delivery away for runs. The loose shots that can go unpunished in the short forms of the game (no slips) lead to an early downfall in the four-day game.
Australia 337-7 declared
There was a second match going on, the two A team meeting in a 50-overs match in Canberra.
Australia A 261-9
England A 210
What must concern the management most is that the major roles were all taken by senior players. The only sizeable scores came from Alice Davidson-Richards (72) and Georgia Elwiss (50). Tash Farrant chipped in with 21* lower down. Six batters failed to reach double figures.
Much the meanest of the bowlers was ADR once more (2-13 at 3.23). Test hopeful Lauren Bell took an early wicket but proved expensive (7-0-45-1) and bowled four wides.
None of the youngsters really made a mark, Maia Bouchier 0, Alice Capsey 14, Issy Wong 7-0-36-1. It was good to see Sarah Glenn take wickets but they came at a cost (8-0-52-3).
It’s very early days for this team. They proved worthy opponents of the elite squad in the warm-up games, and have more chances to impress the management.
But overall it becomes apparent how far the English still have to travel in their search for the crown.