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Cricket - 19. February 2008.

Ashes Test Day 4


England rattled through Australia’s lower order early on in the first session on the final day of the Ashes Test to reduce them to 231-9 declared, a lead of 141 runs. Emma Sampson, Australia’s final batter faced two balls before her captain, Karen Rolton declared to set up an exciting finish to this Ashes series.


With 59 overs to play, as well as an additional 17 in the final hour if required, England set about the task of notching up the required 142 runs to win the match and retain the Ashes.


Openers Beth Morgan and Caroline Atkins put on 11 before lunch for the visitors, but then in the first over after the break Atkins (8) was trapped lbw by Elysse Perry who was bowling consistently at 91km per hour. Claire Taylor, England’s mainstay from the first innings came in as the visitors were 12-1.


Morgan and Taylor added 49 for the second wicket to push England through to 61, before Morgan was caught close in by Kate Blackwell off Lisa Sthalekar for 13. Lydia Greenway, coming in at three, took the Australians to task and posted 26 off 31 balls before she was trapped lbw by Shelley Nitschke, leaving England 92-3.


Sarah Taylor, batting at five for England joined Claire in the middle. They added a further four runs before they broke for tea. At the break Sarah was yet to get off the mark, while Claire Taylor was on 46.


Going into the final session, England needed 46 runs to secure victory. The two Taylors scored quickly, finding the gaps in Australia’s field and pushed the ball through to the boundary. Claire’s half-century came up soon after the break from 104 balls.


With England on 121 and needing just 25, Sarah Taylor (12) launched a ball from Sampson to mid-wicket where Kate Blackwell took a catch. Captain Charlotte Edwards joined Claire Taylor in the middle and the two most experienced players in the squad saw England through to the emphatic victory. Taylor finished unbeaten on 64, while Edwards was 14 not out.


Earlier in the day, Australia had lost five wickets for 36 runs. Resuming on 195-4, Australia lost the key wicket of Sthalekar early on in the first session to a catch by Isa Guha fielding in the covers from Beth Morgan’s bowling. Morgan had opened the bowling with Nicky Shaw for the first session on the final day. Sthalekar fell just short of her second Test century, scoring 98 before being dismissed.


Elysse Perry replaced her at the crease with Australia 198-5. Holly Colvin, bowling first change for England, had Kate Blackwell caught in the covers by Laura Marsh shortly after for 33. As wicket keeper Leonie Coleman came to the middle Australia were 204-6.


Australia posted a further 13 runs before Coleman was trapped lbw by Guha for eight. It was Guha’s fourth wicket of the second innings and her ninth for the match. She returned match figures of 9-100 and with it secured the Player of the Match.


Kirsten Pike came in at nine for the hosts as they tried to forge a decent lead over their English counterparts. Four overs later, Perry (6) was clean-bowled by Colvin for her third wicket of this Test match, bringing Sampson to the crease. Two balls later Rolton declared to set up the exciting finish.


After the game captain Edwards said: “I’m delighted; almost lost for words. To beat Australia in Australia is a fantastic feeling. We had always said we would come out here and aim to win this match in order to retain the Ashes and that’s what we did today.


“I’m so proud of all my players. We have played some fantastic cricket over these past four days to continually have the upper hand over Australia and to pull through and secure victory today was a great effort.


“We’ll celebrate tonight, but then turn our attentions to New Zealand for the one-day series over there, which starts on Sunday.”


Isa Guha, Player of the Match added: “It was brilliant to be playing at The Bradman Oval and it was an extra special win for us because we knew that people were saying we had only come out for the draw as that would have been enough to retain the Ashes. But we always knew that we were playing for a win and it’s great to be part of such a special occasion.


“We fought hard throughout the four days and always came back strong if it looked like Australia were settling.


“I’m pleased that I was able to step up to the mark, but at the end of the day over the Test match the whole team has contributed to such an emphatic win. We’ll celebrate tonight but look on to the New Zealand series which starts in less than a week.”


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