Edwards stands tall for England

Charlotte Edwards

Charlotte Edwards brings up a memorable hundred in Sydney, a moment she later described as "one of my career highlights"

A maiden Ashes century for captain Charlotte Edwards kept England women’s innings together on the opening day of the one-off Test against Australia.

Edwards hit a sterling unbeaten 103 in a close-of-play total of 181 for eight at the Bankstown Oval in Sydney, in a contest that will decide the outcome of the Ashes.

Her immense contribution was especially important given that Jenny Gunn, who made 33, was the only other player to reach double figures on a day when England scored at fewer than two runs an over on a benign surface, albeit hampered by a slow outfield.

“I’ve always wanted to score a Test hundred against Australia so this is definitely one of my career highlights so far," Edwards said.

She faced 277 deliveries in five hours at the crease, although she was grateful for late support from Holly Colvin, who spent 66 balls making six not out as they shared an unbroken stand of 34 for the ninth wicket.

Ellyse Perry was the principal architect behind England’s struggles with four wickets, while Rene Farrell struck twice.

Perry trapped both openers, Heather Knight and Caroline Atkins, lbw with the new ball before Farrell accounted for Lydia Greenway, the star of England’s one-day series win, to reduce them to 28 for three after Edwards won the toss.

Edwards, who hit six of the eight fours struck today, and Gunn combined to add 65 for the fourth wicket, but the latter’s departure - caught behind attempting to leave Rachael Haynes - restored Australia’s dominance.

While Laura Marsh, Katherine Brunt, Danielle Hazell and Isa Guha may have mustered just 17 runs between them, Brunt’s 72-ball eight at least aided Edwards' cause.

While she was responsible for 45 of the 61 runs scored in the evening session, Colvin played a key supporting role, accompanying Edwards for almost 19 overs as Australia were denied further success before the close.

“We did lose wickets in the middle today, but the lower order helped me along and contributed some important runs," added Edwards.

“I’m looking forward to getting out there again tomorrow and hope we can push past 200.”

Perry paid special tribute to Edwards, saying: “Charlotte batted extremely well and full credit goes to her - she was fantastic today.

"She has been the rock of their team for a long time now and has been all series so far as well.

“England have the runs on the board and that’s always a good start. It’s quite a lush slow outfield here so realistically (it is) about 230 that they’ve scored if you take that into account."

The match was also notable for the fact that Knight, Hazell and Lauren Griffiths, who is yet to bat, made their England Test debuts, while Jess Cameron, Sarah Coyte, Sarah Elliot and Alyssa Healy did likewise for Australia.