Australia Retain The Ashes In Taunton Testing Ends Blunted To Draw > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - Australia retain Ashes after Taunton Tests ends in dull draw
Australia have retained the Ashes after securing a draw in the Test match at Taunton.
The two points picked up for the stalemate see the holders take an unassailable 8-2 lead in the multi-format series. England could win the final three T20is to draw level. That is the only motivation they have left. For the third Ashes in a row, the trophy is beyond them.
It finished with handshakes with no winner determined after 325.5 overs of play. Australia probably did more to take the four points than England, who were always pushing the boulder uphill. But it was fitting that neither won, because women's Test cricket certainly didn't.
Considering the work that went in to getting this Test on, you wonder if it was all worth it when it peters out so meekly while the sun shines. Of course, rain robbed the match of most of day three.
Blame will be put at the doors of both teams. Australia batting on into the evening was nothing more than a stat-padding exercise. England's slow-go on the penultimate evening was bemusing, especially with Nat Sciver, who registered a fine 88 on day four which was on par with Ellyse Perry's 116 in the first innings for quality if not quantity, and Katherine Brunt.
Both teams spoke of pushing the case for Test cricket coming into this match. They will be kidding themselves if they leave this game thinking they have done just that.
England, to their credit, began the final day in fourth gear and their proactiveness ensured the morning session was the most engaging of the match. The heightened scoring rate was one of a number of threads that made the morning session the most engrossing one in the game. England put on 76 runs in their 24.1 overs, passing the follow-on target of 271, and the brunt of those were accrued by Sciver.
After battening down the hatches to close out day three, Sciver was her more recognisable self, throwing her hands at the ball with purpose and, against Ashleigh Gardner, using her feet to meet the off-spinner on the half-volley and clout a four down the ground. Having already ticked over her previous Test-best of 49, a maiden century was firmly in her sights, especially as getting it would not distract from the task at hand.
The paucity of multi-day cricket and its uncertain future makes the Test century a collector's item in the women's game. So when Sciver, on 88, went back to guide a ball for a single to backward point and played the ball onto her stumps, the dismay in the home dressing room and crowd was palpable.
What disappointment there was did not stop Laura Marsh from rediscovering scoring form with the bat. Her Test status as a doughty blocker is well-earned, but her 28 runs showcased what timing she has. She also managed to hold her nerve when caught up in a exciting spell of short-pitch bowling from 20-year-old tearaway quick Tayla Vlaeminck. Her dismissal - trapped in front by the left-arm spin of Jess Jonassen - came in an unnecessary extra over, with the declaration coming from England on 275 for nine.
But the it did not stop Marsh challenging that focus into her post-lunch spell that saw England in control for the first time since they lost the toss on Thursday morning. In the opening over after lunch, the off spinner bowled Alyssa Healy through the gate and pinned Rachel Haynes in front with the second and final ball. At that point, the tourist's lead was 160 and, just for a moment, the audacious prospect of eight more Australian wickets and a thrilling evening chase permeated the most stubborn of minds.
Who knows how things might have panned out if, when Perry had just 20, the umpire decided a deliver sliding on from Sophie Ecclestone would have been hitting leg stump. Hawkeye showed this to be the case, but the not out decision and lack of DRS meant nothing could be done about it.
It took another 5.5 overs for that third breakthrough, and my oh my did it rely on the generosity of the Australia captain: Meg Lanning gifting Kirstie Gordon her second Test wicket by guiding a full toss to a diving Georgia Elwiss at a decent way back at cover. It was another 10 before Tammy Beaumont shadowed an advancing Beth Mooney to snare a sharp catch at short leg off the impressive Ecclestone.
But with Perry at the other end, stability, the match and the Ashes were still very much in Australia's possession. Her third fifty-plus score in Tests came off 88 balls, becoming the second Australian woman to score a hundred and a fifty in the same Test.
She walked off unbeaten at tea, the prospect of a 280 chase from 41 overs for England was a possibility. When she strolled back on to begin the final session, the bore draw came right into focus.
When time was called, with Australia 375 ahead, Sophie Molineux gone for an enterprising 41 and Perry with a tidy red inker of 76, it felt like mercy.
For Australia though, it feels like victory. And rightly so. The Ashes remains theirs.
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