By Rob Barnett
Two late Anya Shrubsole strikes augmented Arran Brindle’s 68 and 49 from Test debutant Natalie Sciver holding England’s innings together on the first day of the Women’s Ashes.
Shrubsole gave the tourists a late boost by snaring openers Elyse Villani and Meg Lanning to leave Australia nine for two in reply to 201 at the WACA.
Charlotte Edwards chose to bat first in the one-off Test, which kicked off England’s defence of the urn in the second multi-format Ashes series, and gave format debuts to Sciver plus Kate Cross, but was third out to leave her side 32 for three.
Patient knocks from the experienced Brindle and format novice Sciver ensured a reasonable total, although Sciver missing out on a fifty sparked a slide of the tourists’ last four wickets falling for 12 runs.
England were soon rewarded for Katherine Brunt and Shrubsole bowling with fire as the latter ousted Villani in her first over and had Lanning, who Edwards had highlighted as Australia’s most dangerous batter, caught behind with what became the day’s last ball.
Today began equally well for Edwards’ team when the captain clipped the first delivery, from Ellyse Perry, off her legs for four. Edwards and Heather Knight, a centurion in the summer’s drawn Ashes Test, consolidated a decent start.
However, Holly Ferling having Knight held at second slip prompted a blip in the tourists’ batting. In the next over Sarah Taylor was lbw to Ellyse Perry and Edwards shortly fell likewise to Sarah Coyte.
Lydia Greenway and Brindle rebuilt, running hard to turn ones into twos, as Australia continued to attack. The hosts did so throughout the innings, never having less than two slips for the seamers.
The fourth-wicket stand, during which Brindle stroked three fours in a Ferling over, realised 64 either side of lunch until Greenway played on to Perry for 22.
Brindle and Sciver then dug in for an alliance worth 58, which ended on the stroke of tea when the former was bowled by Rene Farrell.
Sciver continued to look a class act and she was unfortunate to miss out on a half-century when Coyte had her caught behind down leg. By then, Jenny Gunn had departed to a loose shot against Farrell, who ran through the tail for figures of 4-43. Perry picked up another wicket to return 3-41.
Danni Hazell resisted for 69 balls in making 15, offering good support to Sciver.
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