Danni Wyatt hit a century as England produced a world record T20 international run chase to win the final instalment of the Women’s Ashes and tie the series, but Australia ultimately retained the trophy they won in 2015.
Beth Mooney’s unbeaten 117 went a long way to setting England a record chase of 179 to prevent Australia winning the competition out right. But Wyatt’s century, and 51 from captain Heather Knight, saw England complete the chase with an over to spare, earning the final two points to tie the series at 8-8.
There had only been four centuries in women’s T20 internationals prior to this fixture, but Mooney and Wyatt both sparkled on a dramatic day in Canberra.
“I felt it was within our grasp to win today but catches win matches” – Rachael haynes
“We have had a couple of hiccups but we have played some outstanding cricket during this series”, said Australia captain Rachael Haynes.
“Beth Mooney batted outstandingly. It was incredible what she did today.
“I felt it was within our grasp to win it today but it is true that catches win matches and we put down a few too many today.”
Australia took an 8-6 lead in to the fixture and the knowledge that they had already retained the Ashes trophy. And when opener Mooney smashed 19 boundaries – the highest ever figure in a T20 international by a man or woman – on her way to an unbeaten 117 that led Australia to 178-2, it looked as though they would be celebrating a series win.
And with a daunting world record chase in front of them, England slumped to 30-3 with Tammy Beaumont, Sarah Taylor and Nat Sciver all dismissed for single figures.
“today has been a brilliant showcase for women’s cricket” – heather knight
Those dismissals brought Knight to the crease and her 139 run partnership with Wyatt, aided by five Australian missed catches, gave England hope. When Knight was run-out on 51, England needed ten runs from 15 balls.
But with Wyatt then dismissed four balls, and two runs, later, England were left relying on two news players at the crease to see the game out. Katherine Brunt was caught on five off the bowling of Delissa Kimmince but with the final ball of the 19th over Fran Wilson reached the boundary to steer England home.
“To finish the series the way we have, and play second fiddle to Danni [Wyatt] today, has been a brilliant showcase for women’s cricket”, claimed England skipper Knight.
Australia retained the Ashes by virtue of having been the last team to win a series, having won when the two sides met in England in 2015.
“We’re disappointed but to finish the way we have is something we can be proud of” – heather knight
Australia won the first two One-Day fixtures, with England hitting back to win the third, taking the series score to 4-2.
With the test match drawn, and each side awarded two points, Australia’s win in the first T20 fixture in Sydney meant they established an 8-4 lead and could no longer lose the series, with only four points available from the remaining two T20 fixtures.
“We’re disappointed to lose the Women’s Ashes but to come away and finish the way we have is something we can be proud of”, said Knight.
“We showed real character to turn the series around after losing the first two one-day internationals”, she added.
With the multi-format Women’s Ashes series completed attention will now turn to the men’s five match test series which begins in Brisbane on Thursday (23rd November).
–Alistair Sargent, Editor (Sport)
(-Picture, Graham Dean)