England set for tense finale

England face a nervy final day in Worcester after Australia set up a thrilling climax to an absorbing Women's Ashes Test.

Holders England only need to draw to retain the Ashes but the tourists have given themselves a chance by rattling up a 169-run lead by the close of day three.

Alex Blackwell and Karen Rolton took Australia to 128 for one and the pair will push for a quick declaration tomorrow to give their side as many overs as possible to bowl out England.

Rolton reached a personal milestone in the final over, clubbing a boundary through the covers to become the first Australian to reach 1,000 Test runs.

Beth Morgan

Beth Morgan's marathon innings finally came to an end when she was bowled by Lisa Sthalekar for 58

Laura Marsh took the only Australian wicket to fall, trapping Shelley Nitschke leg before to complete a fine all-round display.

Earlier she and Holly Colvin put on an entertaining last wicket stand of 59 as England were bowled out for a respectable 268.

Marsh made a mockery of her position at number 11 by unfurling a number of drives in her 38 which would have been the envy of any top order batsman.

England's reply was based heavily on Beth Morgan's marathon innings of 58 which took a whopping 351 minutes to compile.

Her stay at the crease was a model of patience, stubborn almost, but much needed after England collapsed to 28 for four the previous afternoon. The Australian fielders must have been sick of the sight of Morgan's bat face metronomically being planted in an impregnable forward defence.

Resuming on 116 for five after rain brought a premature end to Saturday, England crawled along during the morning session and lost Jenny Gunn in the process.

The all-rounder had added seven to her overnight score when, on 41, she got a faint tickle down the legside off Lauren Ebsary, the sprawling Jodie Fields taking a tumbling catch. Her stand with Morgan was worth a valuable 77 runs.

While the obdurate Morgan remained, the feisty Katherine Brunt was prepared to play her shots and it was her pull for four off Ellyse Perry that took England past the follow-on - a stroke which brought a relieved cheer from the England dressing room.

Katherine Brunt

Katherine Brunt trudges off after being bowled for 27 by Rene Farrell which left England on 183 for seven

Brunt soon perished after lunch, bowled by Lauren Ebsary for a bullish 27, as England began to lose their way in the Worcester sunshine.

Nicky Shaw was the next to go, castled by Rachael Haynes although the batsman might feel she was undone by the low bounce.

Morgan, who faced an astonishing 262 deliveries, finally succumbed to Lisa Sthalekar's off-spin, the ball squeezing between her pad and bat as she drove loosely.

Coming together at 209 for nine - still 100 short of Australia's first innings score - Marsh and Colvin's bolshy partnership was hugely enjoyable unless you were wearing a baggy green cap.

Marsh took the lead role, punching a series of textbook drives through the covers before Sarah Andrews brought an end to the fun.