A Thriller To Start The Women’s Ashes

An account of the opening salvos in the Women’s Ashes and some photographs.

INTRODUCTION

Unlike the original Ashes, which have been fought for since 1882, the Women’s Ashes is contested across multiple formats. The current scoring system awards two points for a win in a limited overs match, 1 for a no-result and 0 for a defeat, while the sole test match is worth four points. 

A Classic Match

The first of three ODIs that the women will be contesting took place at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane. Australia won the toss and put England in to bat. Several England players got starts but none managed to build a really substantial score, Lauren Winfield leading the way with 48. A total of 228 off 50 overs did not look like it was good enough, and in the end it wasn’t.

Eng;land bowled better than they had batted, and at 87-4 Australia were looking distinctly shaky. Alex Hartley failed to hold a return catch offered by veteran Alex Blackwell when the latter had 35 to her name, and Australia were behind the rate, Talia McGrath having occupied 26 balls for a score of 7. This missed chance and some aggression from Ash Gardner (27 off 18) made the difference, Australia getting home in the final over with Blackwell unbeaten on 67. 

A highlight of this match was the preponderance of quality spin bowling on show – in Gardner, Amanda-Jade Wellington and Jess Jonassen Australia had three high-class practitioners, while Hartley and the experienced Laura Marsh both bowled well for England.

More details and official reports here.

ON THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN ‘WOMEN’S ASHES’ AND ‘ASHES’

This applies across the board, and not just to cricket between England and Australia, but this seems a suitable place to mention this. I see the distinction between these categories as that between a restricted (“Women’s”) and an open category – if a woman is able to play alongside the men she should have the right to do so – the existence of Women only teams is an acknowledgement that few women could because the men are generally larger and stronger. Similarly if a disabled athlete happens to be performing comparably to their able-bodied counterparts they should be able to compete alongside them. 

In terms of cricket I would expect that a woman who earned selection for ‘The Ashes’ as opposed ‘The Women’s Ashes’ would not be a specialist fast-bowler, but I could see spinners, wicket-keepers or batters earning selection.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some recent photographs…

FWContrasting ducksFarming implementMaids HeadMoorhens, Bawsey DrainMoorhen, Bawsey DrainGulls, Bawsey DrainMoorhen, The WalksSouth GateSouth Gate 2Swan, the NarSwans, The NarSwans, The Nar IIFlying birdsFlying birds IIShip and craneHH an RSCustom House

New flats
A new building among the old.

Thoresby CollegeMinsterTHTH2

A Classic Test Match

some thoughts about the recent test match between England and the West Indies, declarations and umpires.

INTRODUCTION

This post is devoted the second test match of the current England versus West Indies series, which ended at about 6:45PM on Tuesday. 

THE EARLY EXCHANGES

England batted first and reached 258 only because Ben Stokes (100) and Joe Root (59) were reprieved early in their innings by bad West Indies fielding. Kraigg Brathwaite (134) and Shai Hope (147) were the cornerstones of a the West Indies response, which eventually reached 427, a lead of 169. In the second England innings no-one reached three figures but there were solid efforts all the way down the line, and at 490-8 Joe Root decided to declare and give the West Indies a little session of batting just before the close of the fourth day. 

THE FINAL INNINGS

The West Indies made it to the close of the fourth day without losing a wicket. Brathwaite made 95 in this second innings, coming within five of becoming the first batsman ever to score twin centuries in a first-class match at Headingley (and this was the 534th such fixture at the ground), a feat that was finally achieved by player of the match Shai Hope, who also received support from Roston Chase (30) and Jermaine Blackwood (a rapid 41 in the closing stages) who ended up 118 not out, and appropriately enough scored the winning runs. 

There are two features that I am going to make specific comments about, starting with…

JOE ROOT’S DECLARATION

For all that the end result was not what he would have wanted I still say, as I said on twitter at the time, and again a day later when the result was imminent, that this was a good declaration, and that Root was entirely right to go for victory. I remember (though few others will as it was not actually a pafrticularly good match) the Australia v West Indies test match at Adelaide in 2009 when the West Indies were one match down in the series after being soundly defeated at the ‘Gabbatoir’ (a nickname for the Woolloongabba stadium in Brisbane, also known as the Gabba) based on what often happens to visiting teams there) but declined to declare, batting on into the final day. Australia faced a target of 330 off 81, and skipper Ponting decided to settle for the draw rather than going after this target. By the end of the day there were not many people left in the ground (I know whereof I write – I was one of the few who did stay right to the end). I condemn Ponting for this decision to preserve his team’s 1-0 lead in the series rathwer than trying to make it 2-0, as also I condemn the decision of Ryan Ten Doeschate today to extend the Essex second innings into the final afternoon rather than make a serious attempt to win the match by declaring at or even before lunch. PS when I wrote this paragraph I did not realise that Somerset’s “resistance” would be quite so utterly spineless – it now looks like Essex may get their victory after all.

While I do not quite as far as the legendary Sammy Woods (who played for Somerset in the lat 19th and early 20th centuries) who once responded to an enquiry about whether his team might have played for a draw in a game they ended up losing responded with “draws…they’re for bathing in” but I do not hold the draw in high regard and would much prefer a team take risks in the attempt to win than see them play safely for the draw. In the special case of a team being one match to the good going into the final match of a series I would condone a more cautious approach being taken, although Kevin Pietersen’s magnificent series clinching innings at The Oval in 2005 was hardly cautious!

To finish this section: Joe Root was justified in declaring when he did (as was David Gower at Lord’s in 1984 when the result was even more embarrassing for England, courtesy of a magnificent 214 not out from Gordon Greenidge), and this result stands to the credit of the West Indies batting, especially that of Brathwaite and Hope and not to the debit of Root’s declaration. 

SOME SENSIBLE UMPIRING

According to the strict letter of the law play in a purely day game cannot continue if the floodlights are providing more light than the natural light. I congratulate the umpires in this match for not acting with Emeritus Professor of Biosophistry like pedantry and curtailing play due to the light, thus depriving the West Indies of their well-earned victory. There seems little doubt that the light was bad enough to have warranted taking the players off, but the umpires realised given the match situation was such that the players should be kept out there. 

Here are a couple of links relating to this test match:

LOOKING AHEAD

The final match of this series should be good, and almost certainly will feature a moment of history as James Anderson goes into it with 497 test wickets to his credit. Then England have the task of taking on Australia in Australia. This is a seriously tough task, but I think that this England squad can do it.

PHOTOGRAPHS

As always I end this post with some of my own photographs:

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