Aussies on track to retain Ashes after Test draw
THE Women's Ashes series remains alive after no result came from Test at North Sydney Oval on Sunday.
After an action-packed third day, in which Ellyse Perry posted her first ever century then made it a double to put Australia in the box seat, England dug in and hard and held out for the draw.
The result ensures a fiery first T20 match on Friday with England now in an endless must-win battle in their quest to win back the trophy.
Australia threw all they could at England as they needed 10 wickets on the final day. Captain Rachael Haynes used eight bowlers in total including part-timers Elyse Villani, Nicole Bolton and even herself.
But they could only manage to remove England's opening pair of Tammy Beaumont and Lauren Winfield, with few other chances throughout the day.
Questions were raised about the condition of the wicket, which wore the pink ball down and left bowlers and batters alike little to work with. Concerns have also been raised that it may be used for the Ashes T20 on Friday.
"It was a little frustrating, I felt a little bit for our bowling group, because they were bowling good areas, it just wasn't quite doing anything and particularly later on in a Test you expect maybe a little bit of variable bounce and those sorts of things at the very least," Haynes said.
"But that's the way it goes. In some respects it was the same for both teams and we had the rub of the green of that yesterday."
With women's Tests only lasting four days, the worn pitch made a result almost impossible once Australia was unable to make gains in the first session on Sunday.
Haynes said she's certain a fifth day would have delivered a different outcome.
"I think we would have got a result if there was a fifth day," she said.
"Despite the fact that the wicket was flat, my feeling is that we would have got a result in this match if there was a fifth day."
England captain Heather Knight steered England to their desired result, once again coming in at three and producing a half century to help keep her nation's Ashes hopes alive.
Knight surpassed her first innings score of 70 with an impressive 79 and the total coming off 222 deliveries was a testament to the steadiness and caution with which England approached the day.
The English women resisted the temptation to attack shots, taking only what they were certain of and settling for singles when they could.
Knight was particularly pleased with the stand of herself and Georgia Elwiss, who partnered for 111 runs and saw out the match.
"We had a real tough day at the office (on Saturday) and the way they batted put us out of the game," Knight said.
"It was important we came back today and really dug in and fought hard and showed a bit of character, myself and Georgia did that really well."
The highlight for the 2,151 crowd that turned out at North Sydney Oval came with Australia's first wicket of the day via Amanda-Jade Wellington.
The 20-year-old South Australian bowled England's Tammy Beaumont with a delivery that showed why so many liken the leg spinner to Australia's greatest, Shane Warne, the English opener not able to get anything on it as it whipped past to take her off-stump.
Beaumont (37 off 81) and Lauren Winfield (34 off 145) did their job - for England's needs - but 11 overs later fellow South Aussie Tahlia McGrath took the only other wicket for the day, removing Winfield LBW.
With the points-based series at 6-4 in Australia's favour, Australia needs just one win to retain the Ashes, while England have their backs to the wall in needing to win all three.
Each T20 is worth two points and the first is back at North Sydney Oval with the final two at Canberra's Manuka Oval.