By Rob Barnett
Australia can expect to be set a tough target to win the Women’s Ashes Test, according to England starlet Kate Cross who shone today during her first bowl in Test cricket.
The hosts ended on a high with three late wickets on day two of four at the WACA, Charlotte Edwards’ side closing on 18 for three in their second innings - just 12 ahead.
However, the tourists have Arran Brindle and Natalie Sciver, who yesterday hit 68 and 49 respectively, at the crease with Edwards set to come. The usual opener was off the field with an injured left knee for much of the day and cannot bat until England are five down.
Cross, having claimed three key wickets in near 50-degree heat to help limit Australia to 207 all out, is optimistic of a competitive total.
“We bat all the way down the order,” she told ecb.co.uk.
“Danni Hazell the other day batted for a long time - she batted really well - so hopefully we can just regroup tonight, take a lot of fluid on board and bat well tomorrow.”
Cross, a 22-year-old seamer from Manchester, started her Test career with a wicket-maiden in which she clipped Jess Cameron’s off stump. In her next over, still without conceding a run, Cross trapped Alex Blackwell in front as Australia slipped to 37 for five.
The youngster withstood the intense Perth temperatures to snare Australia skipper Jodie Fields for a counter-attacking 43 amid a batting recovery.
“It was a pretty special day to be fair. Cameron’s wicket, that’s probably my favourite. It’s not often that you get a wicket like that. I really enjoyed it,” Cross reflected.
“Obviously a little bit of a disappointing end to the day, but we were out there in 50-degree today, so it’s been a good day all in all I think.”
Cross had to shoulder extra responsibility after lunch when Katherine Brunt was removed from the attack for the rest of the innings for bowling a second head-high full-toss.
The Lancastrian did so admirably, returning stunning figures of 18-10-35-3.
“At the point when she went I had a few wickets under my belt, so that helped a little bit,” Cross added.
“It’s a obviously disappointing losing someone as game-changing as Katherine. Hopefully she’ll be back in the second innings, ready to go.”
Jenny Gunn, who took over the on-field captaincy from Edwards, was impressed by Cross and Anya Shrubsole, who doubled yesterday’s wicket-tally for figures of 4-51.
“It was brilliant. For Crossy to come in and bowl 18 overs, having not played much four-day cricket, I think that was outstanding,” Gunn said.
“To get an early wicket when she was bowling, I think that helped her really, set the tone and she bowled outstanding.”
“Anya, as she always does, Bambi on ice at times, it was good bowling.”
It was the first time Gunn had led during a Test and she modestly downplayed her influence in ending Australia’s riposte, not least with 18 overs that yielded 1-14.
“It was quite interesting because I’d never done the long format of the game,” she added.
“At tea we discussed some plans so it was clear in my head what we wanted to achieve. Luckily we got them out quickly so I didn’t have much to do really.”
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