photos Christopher Lee
England's battling qualities shone through in the Worcester gloom as they eked out the draw they needed to retain the Ashes.
Needing to repel the Australian attack for a total of 55 overs - they were initially set 273 to win from 81 overs but a further 26 were lost to rain - the hosts endured a few nervous twitches before Charlotte Edwards and Jodie Fields shooks hands.
Edwards was there at the end, England's captain steadying the ship after her side wobbled at 39 for three.
After losing Caroline Atkins for a duck, Claire Taylor and Lydia Greenway departed in successive overs as England gave the tourists a sniff of an unlikely victory.
But Edwards drew the sting out of the Australia attack before opening her shoulders and cracking a series of crunching boundaries to finish unbeaten on 53.
It was fitting that the limpet-like Beth Morgan, whose six hour stay in the first innings pretty much ensured the draw, was unbeaten when Fields finally hoisted the white flag with two overs remaining.
Australia resumed this morning on 128 for one - 169 runs ahead - and most expected them to bludgeon quick runs and set up a quick declaration, giving them as many overs as possible to bowl out England.
But their tactics were a little bemusing and, barring some kamikaze running, their cautious approach suggested a team who were more interested in avoiding defeat than hunting a victory.
That Australia could not push on was partly down to some excellent bowling and fielding by the home side.
England were celebrating as early as the first over when Karen Rolton was run out by Laura Marsh for 31, the batsman failing to make her ground as she tried a risky second down to fine-leg.
The effervescent Katherine Brunt, England's star performer in the match after she took six wickets in the first innings, soon reduced Australia 150 for three with a stunning caught and bowled.
Alex Blackwell had moved to 68 when she cracked a half-volley back towards Brunt, who flung up a hopeful right hand and plucked the ball out of the Worcester sky.
Lisa Sthalekar was the next to go, run out by a combination of Brunt and Edwards, soon followed by Lauren Ebsary whose thick inside edge off Nicky Shaw crashed into her leg stump.
Australia were further reduced to 191 for six when first-innings centurion Jodie Fields missed an ugly heave off Marsh and was bowled.
England continued to take regular wickets as Rene Farrell cracked a Holly Colvin straight down the throat of England's most reliable fielder Greenway.
It became 206 for eight when Leah Poulton was run out for 23 after a wonderful piece of fielding by Isa Guha, who was on the field for Jenny Gunn. Stooping low to gather, Guha leapt to her feet and threw to Sarah Taylor, who took the bails off.
Colvin finished off the Australia innings to finish with 3-59, first luring Rachael Haynes down the wicket to be stumped by Taylor, then tempting Ellyse Perry to pick out Morgan at long-on.
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