England women had a mixed day on the third day of the Ashes Test at The Bradman Oval in Bowral as they battle to retain the Ashes. They posted 22 to their overnight total of 222-7, and were all out for 244. They then took three quick wickets to dismiss Australia’s top three for 33 runs, before letting Australia settle to post 195-4 at stumps, a lead of 105 runs going into the final day.
England’s lower order pushed the visitors through to a first innings lead of 90 runs. Laura Marsh was the first to fall on day three to a ball from Emma Sampson that took away her off-stump. She had added five to her overnight total of two not out and England were 233-8.
Isa Guha, who had taken 5-40 in the first innings to help bowl Australia out for 154, joined Rosalie Birch at the crease. She played the ball well and supported Birch as England looked to post a decent first innings lead over their hosts.
Birch (12) was the next to fall for England as she was caught at mid-wicket by Australian favourite Elysse Perry from Kirsten Pike’s bowling. It was Pike’s first Test wicket and as Holly Colvin headed to the middle England were 242-9.
Colvin and Guha added just two more to the total, before Guha was trapped lbw by Shelley Nitschke for four. Colvin was unbeaten on two.
The pick of Australians bowlers was Lisa Sthalekar who took 3-48 from 28 overs. Sampson, Perry and Nitschke all took two apiece, while Pike chipped in with one.
After a ten minute turn around England were back in the field to bowl eight overs before lunch. Nicky Shaw and Guha opened the bowling for the first spell against Australia’s openers Melissa Bulow and Alex Blackwell.
Guha continued her form from the first innings and had Bulow trapped lbw for two just before lunch. Going into the break Australia were 18-1 with Blackwell unbeaten on 16 and captain Karen Rolton, who had come in at three, yet to get off the mark.
Immediately after lunch, England continued to have the upper hand as Blackwell (24) was bowled by Guha in the sixth over after lunch. The Australian opener had attempted a cut shot but played the ball back onto her stumps and Australia we 33-2. Sthalekar replaced her in the middle.
Two balls later Guha claimed the key wicket of Rolton as she trapped her lbw for four, leaving Australia reeling on 33-3 and bringing Nitschke to the crease.
After the initial breakthrough from England, Australia’s pair of Sthalekar and Nitschke dug in and between them added 107 to Australia’s total.
Beth Morgan came on first change for England, and had the opportunity to dismiss Nitschke in her first over. However she dropped a catch from her own bowling when Nitschke was on 8 and Australia 51.This proved costly as the batter went on to score 36 and gave full support to Stahlaekar who was scoring steadily at the other end.
England’s bowlers worked hard to keep Australia’s lead within reach and some exemplary fielding, in particular from Lydia Greenway, denied Australia the advantage.
Colvin got the breakthrough England required as she claimed the wicket of Nitschke with 17 overs and just under one hour left to play in the final session. Colvin took a returned catch to dismiss the batter and Australia were 141-4. Kate Blackwell headed to the middle to see Australia through to stumps.
At the close of play on day three, Sthalekar was unbeaten on 98 and Kate Blackwell was 27 not out. Australia were 195-4, a lead of 105 runs.
The pick of England’s bowlers was again Guha who returned figures of 3-51 from 19 overs. Colvin was the only other bowler to take a wicket for England, for 34 runs from 15 overs.
After the game Colvin said: “I was relishing the opportunity to have a bat and face some of the world’s best bowlers. Unfortunately we didn’t put on as many as we would have liked and soon found ourselves back in the field. We weren’t too disappointed though as we were confident we could perform again in the field.
“Once we were back out we got off to a flying start with Isa taking three quick wickets. However with the pitch getting flatter and the ball roughing up, the Aussies got stuck in and put on over a 100 runs to get themselves back in the game. They played well to achieve that so all credit to them. We’re now looking forward to coming back out tomorrow and retaining the Ashes for England.”
Guha added: “The game is well set-up for an exciting finish. We didn’t maintain the pressure on the Australians as a bowling unit and gave away too many loose balls to enable them to capitalise.
“However tomorrow is another day and we’re prepared to come out and show again how strong a bowling unit we can be. We’re determined to take the Ashes home with us and are all looking forward to tomorrow.”