England women romp home
Normal service was resumed as England women returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion against Australia in the opening match of the NatWest Series.
Surprisingly beaten by the tourists in the solitary Twenty20 international last week, double world champions England bounced back in thrilling fashion to bowl Australia out for just 133 at Chelmsford.
England were almost equally ruthless with the bat, romping to a nine-wicket victory with 23 overs to spare on the back of Sarah Taylor’s stylish 68 off 74 balls and an unbeaten 48 from Caroline Atkins.
As well as Taylor and Atkins played during an opening stand of 119, the foundations for England’s victory were laid in the field, when they bowled with hostility and no little discipline to restrict Australia to a manageable total on a reliable surface.
Pace bowler Katherine Brunt - player of the match in England’s ICC World Twenty20 triumph eight days ago - did the early damage with two wickets in the opening over of the game, while Holly Colvin claimed 3-27 with her left-arm spin.
Nicky Shaw, stand-in captain in the absence of the ill Charlotte Edwards, also deserves immense credit for economical figures of 10-2-18-1.
Australia’s plight would have been considerably worse had it not been for useful lower-order contributions from Lauren Ebsary and Rene Farrell, who made 23 and 39 not out respectively. But the fact that extras were the next biggest contributor to the total said much about Australia’s failings with the bat.
Brunt, who took 3-6 to set up England’s World Twenty20 success at Lord’s, underlined her status as England’s most potent bowler by striking immediately after Australia won the toss and chose to bat.
She had Shelley Nitschke caught at gully off her first ball and found Lisa Sthalekar’s outside edge with the final delivery of the opening over.
Karen Rolton edged Isa Guha behind to leave Australia wobbling on nine for three in the fourth over, and the loss of two wickets in the space of seven balls interrupted a recovery of sorts.
Shaw trapped opposite number Jodie Fields lbw with an off-cutter, before Leah Poulton swung a waist-high full toss from Colvin to Atkins at long-on.
Ellyse Perry’s painful one off 16 balls came to an end when she was stumped by Sarah Taylor as she advanced down the pitch to Colvin, who removed Alex Blackwell four overs later courtesy of a miscued sweep.
Ebsary struck four fours in her run-a-ball 23, but she fell to a well-judged catch on the midwicket boundary by Lydia Greenway off Laura Marsh.
Erin Osborne was run out by Ebony Rainford-Brent and, though Farrell and Sarah Andrews helped Australia avoid the indignity of failing to reach three figures with a last-wicket stand of 36, there was little doubt which side was the happier at the halfway stage of this contest.
That feeling was underlined when England batted as Taylor and Atkins overcame a patient start to find their rhythm.
Taylor, in particular, looked better the longer her innings went on, striking two off-side fours in one Perry over en route to a 55-ball half-century containing four further boundaries.
Atkins provided solid support, accumulating steadily rather than dominating the bowling, but England’s efficiency in the field meant she had to do no more than that.
The only blemish on the England scorecard was Taylor’s departure in what proved to be the penultimate over of the game, caught buy wicketkeeper Fields via a top edge as she swept Sthalekar. It could not mask England’s total dominance.