... and you'll find the latest links to newspaper and web site reports
on the Ashes on the same page.
The One and Only Test
As I'm sure I've typed before you will find plenty of excellent reports
around the 'Net, but you'll also find amazing ignorance from reporters who
have, allegedly, watched and written not just about women's sport but cricket
in particular. Try this as a "for
instance". If you can stomach it until the end, and I had to
grit my teeth to do so, then you'll find an interesting note among the
comments. It seems "Doctor Rotcod" (whoever he may be) pays rather more
attention to cricket generally than the writer. Now I have not checked his
facts, but I am assuming them to be accurate as no one has rushed forward to
challenge them, and, as there's always others apart from the article writer
anxious to 'put down' the women's game, I have to assume they are correct.
The facts (according to Doctor Rotcod)? Try this clip...
Good to see Perry get a double century with
a strike rate of 57,better than Smith, Khawaja or Williamson in the
Trans-Tasman a year or so back
Haynes, Healy and Johansen pushed it along
too. After scoring 160 or so off the first 80 overs, the Aussies made
260 from the next 80.No complaints about that.
A touch of sanity...
All this comes in the wake of a statement by Belinda
Clark, and presumed to be on behalf of the ICC, that they are not
looking to play, around the globe as a whole, more than the one Test
every two years and that between Australia and England. If this
ambition (or perhaps I should say 'lack of ambition') is realised then
any of you readers in South Africa and New Zealand may as well chuck
away your whites now (if you ever had any).
I hope that none of this takes away from Perry's
enjoyment of the moment, even if a former Australian captain is
speaking as if she'd like to sound the death knell on Perry's career
in the baggy green.
Ellyse Perry batting in the hard-hat version of the
This is Perry's seventh Test Match, her first being in 2008. Most
male internationals of similar standing would play more in a year,
than she has played in the 10 years (from 22 July 2007) that she has
spent in Australian colours. I would say this is disgraceful and while
I understand the money constraints of the early days, does this really
apply now with all the cash the ICC has in the bank? I don't think so.
It's a matter of choice, and, as so often in life, women draw the short
straw. (And I should remind anyone who may not know - this is being
typed by a man!).
Her knock of 213* is the third highest score by a batsman in Test
history, ironically behind an Indian player (Mithali Raj) and a
Pakistani (Kiran Baluch). It seems they can look forward to never
playing a Test match again. They must look back on an era that has
disappeared for them.
The Straight Bat and
High Elbow that is Mithali Raj
I have wondered, however, if there's something else which may
cause Mithali a quiet smile. Her 2nd place in the all-time list was in
grave danger but she retains it by a single run! Baluch's 242 was
probably out of sight in view of a declaration that had to come at
some point. There was no other reason I could ascertain why the first
women's triple century might have been on the cards otherwise.
I have now watched three double centuries with the naked eyeball
(so to speak) and an additional one on the 'box', missing only two
possible, Rolton's and that of the top of the pile, Baluch's. The fact
that I have watched only twenty years of this sport that has been
playing Test cricket since before World War II shows that things are
already changing around the format.
I feel too that it is significant that the players like the
format, the crowds seem to like it, and even TV has picked it up,
usually the last to cotton on. Only the ICC it seems would rather sit
on its cash mountain and, presumably, spend it on franchises of some
sort or another, or more likely on the men's form of the game. It
seems the business minds there, who always appear to want to maximise
the money, have not opened their eyes to a growing market - a classic
T20s (and all that)
With the first game in the series lost
you might have felt that from England's point of view there was only
pride to play for. You may be right in terms of the points table and
hence the destination of the Ashes. However, that's not to say we
can't stir up some controversy. It happened in fact in this first T20,
when, after three umpires couldn't make up their mind on Heather
Knight's dismissal, she was given out, not out and then out again. It
showed three umpires not familiar with the Laws of the game, and that,
perhaps, was the saddest comment of all.
Notes here, and later confirmed by the MCC Laws Blog, showed she
should have remained at the crease.
Now all umpires make mistakes and all the
time we use humans to do this job it will be ever thus. Misjudging a
nick of the arm or the glove (which was it?) or judging if that ball
would have missed or hit the bails (lbw?) is something that cricketers
simply have to live with. But should they have umpires who don't know
the Laws of the game? I think not at any level, let alone
international! The very least that should happen is the three are
returned to some courses and pass whatever tests are required all over
again. For a motoring offense it is no use saying you didn't know the
Law and it shouldn't be for cricket either! Sadly not
understanding the MCC's Law book is quite common at lower levels of
the women's game, but at international...?
Would this error have made any difference
to the result of the match and thus possibly the series? We'll never
know, of course, but if England manage to win the final T20 I suspect
they'll feel justified in flying home feeling rather 'miffed'.
In the 2nd T20 match of this series,
England adopted a rather more aggressive approach both in choosing
their batting order and in the manner of the execution of the plan.
Opening with Wyatt is surely the least difficult decision any
coach/captain ever had to make. Not only had she come off a maiden 50
(off 36 balls!) but her career strike rate of over 100 means that if
she gets any runs at all they will be quick in coming! You'll not die
wondering with Wyatt at the crease and that's what T20 cricket is
supposed to be all about. It's an
unusual card but illustrates how T20 needs to be played, only one
player in England's line-up having a strike rate below 100. With 20
overs and 10 wickets it doesn't matter if you lose (not too many)
wickets. You could claim you can lose one every two overs and win the
match. Even 6 off 5 from Fran Wilson (bearing in mind where the overs
had ticket over to) is what you need.
Danni Wyatt (note where the keeper's gloves
If the series had been lacking excitement
much of the time - perhaps until Perry, Knight and Elwiss showed what
can be done with application, then a different sort of excitement
pervaded Manuka Oval for the 3rd T20.
Firstly Beth Mooney demonstrated what many
Australians had been claiming for a while; that she could bat not just
solidly but with real gusto. 117 off 70 balls with the rather sensible
ratio of 19 fours to 1 six (strike rate 167), means this player has a
long future ahead of her. The Australians now have two players in
their armoury (if we forget someone currently on the injury list) to
whom century-making looks like 'all in a day's work'. I'd wonder why
that might be except that the answer is a tad too easy. Just in case
you're new to this sport (and this web site) I'll tell you. It's
because they pay more attention to the 'grass roots' and fashion their
skills at 50-over cricket. Anyone who knows cricket will not be
surprised that that actually fits you best for the 20-over version of
Beth Mooney, here representing the Yorkshire Diamonds in England's Kia Super
However, if she felt she had the fruit bowl (a strange choice) for the
Player of the Match Award solidly in her grasp, then she was much mistaken.
Along came one of the most exhilarating players to watch in the modern game.
Danni Wyatt has long promised big things and if she hasn't realised them as
often as she might in T20s it's simply that batting that low in the order
for England has often meant she had few balls to play with. True she's
opened as a 'pinch-hitter' but that always mean your scores will be
something of a lottery. Despite this she still has one of the highest (if
not the highest) strike rates in the England squad and, quite simply, that's
what T20 cricket is all about. Finesse is unlikely to help you here -
although Mooney's innings did show what can be done with largely 'proper
Danni Wyatt, here representing England in a T20 against South Africa
That doesn't mean Danni isn't able to use the delicate manoeuvre or subtle
touch. What she can do in spades is play with guts and determination.
Dropped off a sitter at 14, she ploughed on as if nothing had happened.
[There have been a number of reports that she was
dropped twice or even three times- but three careful watches of that innings
by a correspondent means I can be sure it was only once and that some
journalists simply can't recognise who is who in a women's team! - one other
batsman was dropped three times...] Many
might have retreated slightly with the fear of repeating the error, but she
was obviously well aware even a slight retrenchment simply wasn't 'on' if
England were to succeed in what was to become a record chase. Her 100 off 57
balls with 13 fours and 2 sixes (strike rate 175) stood out as one of the
finest (if not the finest) T20 knocks of all time.
There have been just 6 T20 centuries (including these) and here we had a
match with two! Who are the ton-up players? They are Lanning (126), Mooney
(117*), Fritz (116*), Dottin (112* and also 112) and now Wyatt with 100.
That's 2 x Australia, 1 x South Africa, 2 x West Indies and 1 x England. But
check the opposition! Lanning's was made against Ireland and Fritz against
the Netherlands. The rest against countries who played in the recent World
Watching Wyatt's innings I know that many were reminded of that famous stand
at the Oval in 2009 where Claire Taylor and Beth Morgan put on 76 for the
3rd wicket to gain an improbable win for England. Wyatt's performance
was even more remarkable, With England on 30-3 at one point and only Knight
(51) able to get into double figures to support her, this was (almost) a
one-woman show. Together they added 139 to England's score, the 5th highest
all-time partnership in women's T20 cricket.
So unlikely did it seem at 30-3 that England could make this that I joked
after the match that I had hidden my hats for fear someone would ask me to
eat one. They would have been justified!
With the Ashes points now level at 8-8, England could fly home reasonably
happy. They hadn't regained the Ashes it's true, but neither had Australia
won them. The opposition had retained them! This will continue happening, of
course, all the time no one wakes up to the fact you could have an uneven
number of points in the series. I know this doesn't guarantee a result
(rain!) but it does improve the chances, and let's face it many competitions
describing themselves as 'leagues' play off for top spots these day - take
the Kia Super League as an example. Maybe the Ashes could also figure out
something along those lines in the event of a tie.
If there was a down side to this series it was the fact that no reserve days
had been arranged for the single day games. This is, quite simply
dereliction of duty on the part of whoever made that decision. Fortunately
they would not have been needed but that's not, frankly, the point. On the
plus side, those in England could enjoy a 'streaming' service to watch the
matches free of change. Let's see more of this in cricket for both genders,
Maybe England will be flying home thinking 'at least we held them to a tie'
and Australia will be thinking 'if only we'd had Lanning!' They'd both be
justified in their thoughts.