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Gritty Elliott makes up for lost time

By Chris Devine at Wormsley

Sarah Elliott marked her return to the international fold with an unbeaten 95 as Australia’s batters made hay on day one of the Women’s Ashes Test at Wormsley.

In the first four-day match between the teams since a new multi-format Ashes contest was introduced - this game has six points on offer to the winner and will be followed by six limited-overs encounters worth two points each - Australia capitalised on winning the toss by reaching 243 for three on a slow surface.

Elliott is the only member of the touring party without a national contract, missed out on selection for the Twenty20 and ODI squads, and has not featured for her country since striking a match-winning 81 not out against England in the previous Test between the teams at Sydney in 2011.

Yet she made light of her lack of action in Australia kit by holding firm for 245 deliveries in a wonderful exhibition of skill and determination.

Although Elliott’s progress was largely cautious, the 31-year-old showed a willingness to put away the bad ball and drove impressively through the cover region.

The luckless Anya Shrubsole was comfortably the pick of England’s attack on Test debut and could consider herself unfortunate to end the day with figures of 1-42.

Shrubsole bowled Rachael Haynes in the 10th over of the day, but Elliott, whose nine-month-old son Sam was at the ground today, duly shared respective partnerships of 70, 80 and 76 with Meg Lanning, Jess Cameron and Alex Blackwell.

Lanning struck 48 before being run out following a mix-up with Elliott; Cameron was lbw to Laura Marsh for 50 just as she was threatening to find top gear and Blackwell survived the odd early scare to reach stumps on 29.

Shrubsole and fellow debutant Tammy Beaumont received their caps from Clare Connor, the ECB’s Head of Women’s Cricket, prior to play.

It was not long before Shrubsole had further reason to celebrate as Haynes was cleaned up by a full ball when looking to drive.

Lanning, one of four Australians playing their maiden Test, and Elliott steadily accumulated for the remainder of the morning, yet both were troubled by Shrubsole.

The opener received a life on 13 as wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor spilled a tricky chance diving to her right in front of slip, while Elliott had just one to her name when a strong lbw appeal was turned down.

There was a bonus breakthrough for England shortly after lunch; an excellent sliding stop and throw from Katherine Brunt at cover-point prompted confusion between the wickets and Lanning was run out having set off for a third only to be sent back.

Elliott subsequently survived another shout for leg-before from the impressive Shrubsole, who extracted more life from the surface than any of her colleagues.

Yet runs started to flow freely as Cameron, winner of the match award in the 2012 World T20 final and this year’s 50-over equivalent, settled into her stride and found the fence with regularity.

Cameron’s 10th four - and third from four individual deliveries - brought up a 96-ball fifty.

However, the dangerous 24-year-old fell lbw playing back to Marsh immediately after reaching the landmark to give the hosts a welcome lift.

Elliott was unbeaten on 54 at tea and went on to exhibit greater fluency against the old ball as Australia moved past 200.

England continued to give their all in the field and Shrubsole saw an edge from Blackwell drop agonisingly short of Taylor behind the stumps after the new cherry had been taken at the first opportunity.

Elliott and Blackwell pressed on, though, and the former was in sight of three figures at the close.

Match Scorecard

Evening Session

Highlights of the opening day at Wormsley

6:01pm - STUMPS - Aus Women 243/3; Elliott 95, Blackwell 29 - Sarah Elliott can be very proud of her efforts today. She has shared in three substantial stands to give Australia the upper hand in the Women's Ashes Test. England will be seeking quick strikes when play resumes tomorrow. Join us then.

5:56pm - Two overs remain and Elliott, who has so far faced 241 deliveries, is six short of a century. Her progress this evening has been particularly admirable.

5:47pm - Hazell, on in place of Gunn, drops short and gets hammered through midwicket by Blackwell, who now has 25.

5:41pm - We have seven overs remaining and Australia, at 227 for three, will be very happy with their position. Marsh and Jenny Gunn are now sharing bowling duties.

5:29pm - Former England paceman Darren Gough is in attendance today and currently talking the media through the methods he would use to gain a wicket on this pitch. Elliott is now 88 not out, having cracked Shrubsole through the covers for her 13th four.

5:12pm - Brunt is giving everything to break this partnership and beats Blackwell in her latest set of six. A couple of wickets in the final hour would change the complexion of this opening day.

4:59pm - My, that was close! Shrubsole finds the edge of Blackwell but it looks as though the ball dropped agonisingly short of Sarah Taylor behind the stumps. Elliott rubs salt into England's wound with a sweetly timed cover-driven four off Katherine Brunt in the next over.

4:51pm - The return of Anya Shrubsole gives England a lift. Elliott has been frequently troubled by the seamer, who is not flattered by figures of 1-33 from 14 overs.

4:40pm - An off-side four from Alex Blackwell takes Australia past 200. England unsurprisingly take the new ball at the earliest opportunity.

4:33pm - This really has been a fine display from Elliott, who has not represented her country since the Sydney Test of 2011. She does not have a national contract and is not part of Australia ODI or T20 squads. Yet today the 31-year-old has demonstrated skill, patience and a willingness to punish the bad ball. Elliott now has 76 and is looking ever more fluent.

4:24pm - Australia's progress has been slow at the start of each session. Eight overs have been bowled this evening - as a side-note, the over-rate has been terrific - and the tourists have added just 12 to their total.

4:04pm - Laura Marsh and Danni Hazell start things off for England after tea. The former is taken for four by Elliott.

Afternoon Session

3:41pm - TEA - Aus Women 170/3; Elliott 54, Blackwell 2 - Alex Blackwell accompanies Elliott through to tea. England will be delighted to have ousted the dangerous Cameron. However, they still have plenty of work to do.

3:34pm - WICKET! Cameron lbw Marsh 50; Aus 167/3 - Arran Brindle is introduced but proves expensive. A full toss is pulled for four by Cameron before a short ball receives the same treatment. Another boundary takes Cameron to 50, yet Marsh gains immediate revenge by pinning the number four in front!

3:24pm - It may not be too long before Cameron overtakes her partner. Her confidence is epitomised by a lofted straight four off Gunn.

3:21pm - FIFTY! Elliott (149b 8x4 0x6) - With Cameron looking increasingly assured, Elliott drives Marsh through cover to bring up the first half-century of the series. Australia are 149 for two.

3:11pm - And now Cameron pulls to register a fourth four. She has 29 and the third-wicket stand has moved past 50.

3:06pm - Cameron drives Brunt to the left of mid-off for four. She has settled in very nicely.

2:55pm - Elliott appears much more comfortable when pace is taken off the ball. After a brief period of spinners Laura Marsh and Danni Hazell operating in tandem, Charlotte Edwards brings back Brunt for another burst.

2:41pm - Drinks are taken with Australia 115 for two. England have looked more threatening after lunch but need to remain patient given the placid nature of this pitch.

2:29pm - Cameron drives Gunn down the ground to pick up her first boundary. Shrubsole is causing Elliott all sorts of problems from the Dibley End. 

2:15pm - Anya Shrubsole, the pick of England's attack, is convinced she has Elliott leg-before, but the umpire disagrees.

2:11pm - That wicket has really slowed things down. Only six runs have been scored since Lanning's departure. Ten of Jenny Gunn's 14 overs today have been maidens.

1:52pm - New batter Jess Cameron has plenty of pedigree. She won the match award in the World Twenty20 final before repeating the trick in the 50-over equivalent. There is lots of noise coming from England's fielders at present; they have been buoyed by that post-lunch scalp.

1:43pm - WICKET! Lanning run out (Brunt) 48; Aus 87/2 - We are back under way after lunch at Wormsley and England have a second breakthrough! Katherine Brunt produces a fine piece of fielding on the cover boundary, sliding to prevent four before unleashing a bullet throw, and confusion between the wickets sees Meg Lanning depart. The opener set off for a third and was sent back by Sarah Elliott.

Morning Session

1pm - LUNCH - Aus Women 84/1; Lanning 45, Elliott 24 - The morning session comes to an end and it has been a good one for Australia. Lanning and Taylor have gradually grown in stature; their partnership is worth 67 so far. A healthy crowd offers warm applause as the batters make their way to the picturesque pavilion.

12:50pm - Marsh sees a impassioned shout for lbw against Lanning turned down. Australia are 68 for one with lunch 10 minutes away and we will have spin from both ends as Danni Hazell comes on.

12:46pm - Lanning and Elliott continue to make steady progress. The latter does not figure in Australia's limited-overs plans and appears keen to make the most of her only outing on this tour.

12:34pm - Off-spinner Laura Marsh is introduced at the wonderfully named Dibley End, so called because the TV show The Vicar of Dibley was filmed in the area behind that part of the ground. Australia look fairly comfortable at present, with the occasional boundary keeping the score ticking over nicely.

12:24pm - Brindle has yet to find her best form with the ball and a loopy full toss allows Lanning to pick up four more.

12:18pm - That's the shot of the day so far. Brindle drops short and is powerfully pulled through midwicket by Lanning, who now has 31 of Australia's 52.

12:13pm - Shrubsole's long spell concludes and Arran Brindle takes over from the Dibley End. There is a mix-up between the wickets, but Lanning avoids being run out.

12:01pm - The dangerous Shrubsole has a strong lbw appeal against Elliott rejected and Australia’s number three subsequently picks up her first four. After 16 overs, the tourists are 41 for one.

11:50am - MISSED CHANCE - Lanning gets a let-off on 13 as Sarah Taylor spills a tough chance diving to her right in front of first slip. The opener then drives elegantly to the cover rope when Jenny Gunn replaces Brunt. Happily, the weather has improved significantly and we now have clear skies and warm sunshine.

11:35am - WICKET! Haynes b Shrubsole 10; Aus 17/1 - Shrubsole cleans up Haynes to make the first breakthrough of the series! The batter was comprehensively beaten as she looked to drive. Sarah Elliott, who has her nine-month old son Sam on tour with her, joins Lanning.

11:31am - Haynes collects consecutive off-side fours via convincing front and back foot strokes off Shrubsole, before Lanning tickles one fine off Brunt for another boundary. This looks to have been a good toss for Australia to win as there is not much life in the pitch.

11:23am - Australia openers Rachael Haynes and Meg Lanning have made a cautious start against disciplined new-ball bowling from Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole. Just four runs have come from the first seven overs. Shrubsole is one of two Test debutants for England along with Tammy Beaumont.

Pre-Play News

10:58am - We are all set to start and Katherine Brunt will bowl the first over.

10:54am - And just before play gets under way, here's an interview with seamer Anya Shrubsole about the series.

10:50am - Here are the teams:

England: Heather Knight, Arran Brindle, Sarah Taylor, Charlotte Edwards (captain), Lydia Greenway, Tammy Beaumont, Jenny Gunn, Laura Marsh, Katherine Brunt, Danni Hazell, Anya Shrubsole.

Australia: Rachael Haynes, Meg Lanning, Sarah Elliott, Jess Cameron, Alex Blackwell, Jodie Fields (captain), Erin Osborne, Ellyse Perry, Sarah Coyte, Megan Schutt, Holly Ferling.

10:33am - Australia win the toss and will bat. Fields chooses to make first use of the wicket. There are a few clouds around but hopefully we will start on time at 11am.

10:23am - Captains Charlotte Edwards and Jodie Fields will be out in the middle for the toss shortly. It is hoped there will be a decent amount of pace on offer from the pitch.

Australia are the current holders of the Women's Ashes, having triumphed in the Test at Sydney two years ago.

10:15am - The Test match starting today represents the opening chapter of a new multi-format Ashes. Six points will be awarded to the winner of the four-day game and two points are on offer in each of the limited-overs encounters - three one-day internationals and three Twenty20s - that follow.

10am - Good morning from the glorious Wormsley Cricket Ground. England Women get their Ashes campaign under way today and is in position to bring you live updates on day one of the solitary Test with Australia.

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