Women’s Ashes 2017: England keep series alive with draw

Knight, who scored a half-century in each innings, now averages 39.66 in the five Tests she has played against Australia
Women’s Ashes Test, North Sydney Oval (day four of four):
England 280 & 206-2: Knight 79*, Elwiss 41*
Australia 448-9 dec: Perry 213*, McGrath 47, Healy 45, Ecclestone 3-107, Marsh 3-109
Match drawn; both sides take 2pts, Australia lead series 6-4

Captain Heather Knight led a stubborn rearguard action as England forced a draw against Australia to keep the multi-format Women’s Ashes alive.

Australia would have retained the trophy if they had won this inaugural day-night Test, but needed to bowl England out on the final day in Sydney.

England began on 40-0, 128 runs behind, but after losing their openers, Knight (79 not out) added an unbroken 117 with Georgia Elwiss (41 not out) to keep Australia at bay before a draw was agreed with the tourists on 206-2.

Australia now lead the series 6-4 on points, meaning – barring intervention from the weather – England need to win all three Twenty20 internationals in order to regain the Ashes trophy.

Ellyse Perry’s sparkling double century on day three had left the hosts in the ascendancy, but neither side were helped by a lifeless North Sydney Oval pitch which gave no assistance to the bowlers, and it must be a concern that the T20 series begins on Friday at the same ground – with the same pitch reportedly set to be reused.

Both teams shook hands on a draw at the earliest opportunity, having reached the last hour of the game

England grit it out

After the excitement of Perry’s unbeaten 213 the previous day, Sunday’s action will have tested the patience of even the most committed fan of women’s cricket.

With the unrealistic prospect of an England victory out of the window, the only possible results were an Aussie win to clinch the series, or a draw to keep it alive.

It meant England had to take a safety-first approach, but openers Tammy Beaumont (37) and Lauren Winfield (34) continued their positive start from the previous night, adding 71 for the first wicket.

For the second time in the match, Beaumont was dismissed by a superb leg break bowled by rookie Amanda-Jade Wellington.

Having been caught at slip in the first innings, here she was bowled by a delivery which drifted into the right-hander, pitched on leg stump and turned sharply to take the top of off stump.

In terms of an Australian leg-spinner dismissing an England batsman renowned as a good player of spin in an Ashes Test, it even drew comparisons with Shane Warne’s “ball of the century” to Mike Gatting in 1993.

Knight, who had scored a painstaking 157 from 330 balls in the 2013 Ashes Test at Wormsley, then led from the front as she compiled her second half-century of the match, her unbeaten 79 coming from 220 balls but containing 11 fours.

Elwiss, making her first appearance since the group stage of the World Cup, vindicated her selection as the extra batter with 41 from 190.

She rode her luck at times – shouldering arms to spinner Jess Jonassen and nearly losing her off stump, while she was nearly run out when Knight called her for a quick single – but England were ultimately good value for their draw.

Australia captain Rachael Haynes (left) used eight bowlers, including a couple of overs of her own part-time left-arm medium pace

So does women’s Test cricket have a future?

While men’s Test cricket’s future as a five-day match has been recently questioned,