By Chris Devine at Wormsley
England were satisfied with their restrictive efforts on day one of the Women’s Ashes Test, even though wickets proved hard to come by at Wormsley.
Only three breakthroughs were made after Australia captain Jodie Fields elected to bat on a slow track offering little in the way of bounce.
Sarah Elliott, in her first international outing since the last four-day meeting between the teams in January 2011, exhibited defiance to remain unbeaten with 95 of Australia’s 243.
Yet Anya Shrubsole, the pick of England’s attack, was content with how things panned out given the lack of assistance provided by the surface.
“I think we can be really pleased with the way we’ve bowled and kept them to less than two and a half an over on what is a fairly flat pitch,” said Shrubsole.
“I don’t think we necessarily got the rewards we deserved for what was 100 overs of decent bowling.”
Shrubsole’s duel with Elliott provided the most intriguing aspect of the day.
Australia’s top-scorer contributed to successive partnerships of 70, 80 and 76, the latter unbroken, but was often troubled by Shrubsole and survived a couple of strong lbw appeals.
“It was quite a good battle and she’s managed to come out on top today,” said the England seamer.
“Credit to Sarah for the way that she’s batted. She stuck in there well, withstood quite a lot of pressure and managed to pick up the runs where she can.”
Elliott arrived at the crease following Shrubsole’s dismissal of Rachael Haynes, which saw the opener bowled for 10.
“Obviously to get my first Test wicket was an amazing experience,” added Shrubsole, who received her cap from ECB Head of Women’s Cricket Clare Connor this morning.
“It’s been five years since I made my T20 and ODI debuts, so I had forgotten what it was like to be a debutant.
“Any time you make your debut is amazing and to make it here in an Ashes Test in such amazing surroundings is a pretty special day.”
If Shrubsole was able to reflect on a “special day”, then it is perhaps hard to find the words for Elliott’s second taste of Ashes action.
The 31-year-old, who is not part of her country’s limited-overs squads at present, guided Australia to victory in their previous Test against England with an innings of 81 not out.
Since then, she has given birth to son Sam, who was among the spectators in a healthy crowd as his mother marked her return to international cricket in some style.
“It’s pretty exciting. It’s really nice to get the opportunity to play and then make the most of the opportunity. To have a look and see Sam and (husband) Rob walking around makes it enjoyable,” said Elliott.
“I’ve been really well supported by Cricket Australia - and Cricket Victoria as well. It’s a great group to be around and it’s nice to know that I can contribute in this format of the game.”
While many cricketers may be kept awake by the prospect of being not out on 95 overnight, Elliott could have a sleepless night for another reason.
Referring to nine-month-old Sam, she added with a smile: “I hope he sleeps well tonight. Rob’s on duty!”
Elliott had words of praise for England’s disciplined attack.
“I thought the bowlers did a great job bowling really tight lines. Shrubsole in particular was getting some really nice swing,” she said.
“The pitch definitely had a bit in it early, which is exciting for our bowlers, then it’s a really great pitch once you’re in and there’s a great opportunity to cash in.”