Lanning Defends Australia'Approach, Towards The End Of The Ashes Test > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - Lanning defends Australia's approach after dull ending to Ashes Test

"The pitch wasn't really deteriorating as we thought it would so we just didn't think there was enough time to be able to bowl them out."

Meg Lanning has defended her team's tactics as the one-off Ashes Test ended in a bore draw.

Australia retained the Ashes trophy after hands were shaken on the evening of the fourth day (Sunday) by virtue of an insurmountable 8-2 scoreline in the multi-format, points-based women's series thanks to the teams sharing two points apiece. With three T20s remaining, each worth two points, England can only draw level with the holders.

It was the manner in which the game petered out that frustrated observers and heaped more derision on the state of women's cricket, specifically the Test format.

England declared upon passing the follow-on score of 271 after Australia's first innings of 420 for 8. In doing so, they gave up a lead of 145 and looked to move the game along, with 81 overs left in the day. Yet by tea, 280 ahead with 41 overs remaining, there was no indication Australia would pull out and attempt to bowl England out for the win.

In the end, Perry (76*) saw out the innings through to 64 overs before handshakes ended the Test in very meek circumstances. In the end, Lanning claimed the Taunton surface negated a positive result.

"We thought about it [declaring] and had a good chat about what our options were and whether we could force a result," she said after the match. "But we sort of looked at how many overs were left especially given how many wickets were falling today.

"The pitch wasn't really deteriorating as we thought it would so we just didn't think there was enough time to be able to bowl them out. We came into the test match 6-0 up and were in a position to make that decision. We were always looking to win but once it got to that point we just felt there wasn't enough time.

"We had to adapt to what the conditions were. We got a used wicket that, especially early with the new ball, was doing a little bit. England made it hard for us. They bowled really well throughout their two innings and didn't let us get away.

"We always had the intention to come in and win the test match. We were hoping to be in a position to enforce the follow on and that was the best chance of winning. That time is taken out of the game on day two (two sessions were lost to rain) probably didn't allow us to get there. You can only play the conditions and what the opposition throw at you and they made it hard for us."

Following the tedium of Sydney 2017 and the dire Canterbury in 2015, which Australia won, here was a chance to put on a thrilling women's Test. Of course, that onus does not fall on Australia. As such, Lanning refuted the suggestion that it was their responsibility to help England out for the good of a spectacle, especially when her pre-match words about always looking to win was put to her.

"I think that's a bit harsh to say we were responsible for (the draw). I think both teams came out with the intention to win and we hold the baggy green very dear to us and every opportunity we get we want to go out and wear it with pride.

"We came in with a six-point lead and I guess when you have to make decisions towards the end of the game, we have to make (a decision) what is best for us."

England head coach Mark Robinson supported her view: "I know they criticised us in 2017 for not trying to win the game. But each team plays it as it is. They're quite within their rights to close up shop and shut the game down and retain them. Fair play to them. We've got to congratulate Australia: they've played better cricket than us and they're the holders of the Ashes again. To Meg, who is an outstanding leader, you say well done."

Robinson also defended his team's approach on day three when England scored just 67 runs in the last 35.3 overs. At one point, they faced 33 straight dot balls and did not hit a single boundary in the last 115 deliveries of the day. Nat Sciver, part of this slow-go, came out and played positively on the final morning on her way to a career best 88. The England coach insisted no orders had gone out to instigate the tactic.

"I don't think anybody intentionally tried to shut up shop," said Robinson. "Nat was playing her way. There were definitely no instructions to do anything else. You always want to play with intent, whatever you're doing, whatever the situation. We were six down as well, not four down, not three down.

"We had some good momentum with Heather Knight and Amy Jones [reaching 80-1 in the 24th over] and apart from that we never had any momentum in the innings.

"Apart from running out with a glove and saying 'Come on Katherine, have a pop,' there's very little we can do. You've got to trust players to do the right thing at the right time. If Katherine gets out there you've got your bowlers quickly, you're bowled out and you're following on, and it's all over then quite quickly."

His focus now moves onto the Twenty20 series. There's an outside shot of replicating 2017's 8-8 scoreline. Raining on Australia's parade is the only carrot to chase.

"That'll be the next focus, the T20 games. Our A teams had a lot of games against Australia A, you're looking at who's done well in those games. People like Danni Wyatt to come back in. You want to win the first game.

"The focus will be like it was in 2017 to try and draw the series and come from behind. There's a World Cup in February in Australia, all those games are preparation for that, to try and get your best formulas and find out who can handle pressure."

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