England captain Heather Knight’s magnificent effort of 127 not out has helped England stand tall on day two of women’s Ashes Test at the Manuka Oval on Friday.
At stumps, England are 235/8 in 87 overs, trailing by 102 runs with left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone giving Heather company at the crease with 27 not out and the ninth-wicket partnership yielding 66 runs.
Heather’s long ranger effort also helped the tourists avoid the follow-on after Australia declared at 337/9. Australia pacer Darcie Brown bagged her first Test wicket when her outswinger tempted Lauren Winfield-Hill to drive away from her body and edge to second slip.
Nine overs later, Ellyse Perry got an in-ducker to move in from a good length and went past the inner edge of Tammy Beaumont to be trapped plumb in front of the stumps.
Nat Sciver hit some boundaries but couldn’t account for inward movement from Annabel Sutherland and gave an inner edge behind to keeper Alyssa Healy.
Ellyse returned to take out Sophia Dunkley, who hung her bat out and chopped on to the stumps. As the England batters fell without contributing much, Heather was standing as a rock for her team. She drove amazingly throughout her innings through cover and point to accumulate 10 boundaries, including a big slow-sweep for a six over deep mid-wicket off off-spinner Ashleigh Gardner.
With other batters like Amy Jones, Charlie Dean, Anya Shrubsole and Katherine Brunt falling without doing much, Heather motored along nicely. She drove an Alana King delivery through cover to bring up her second Test century in 213 balls.
Heather did what Joe Root couldn’t do in the men’s Ashes: get a century. It was the first time a male or female England captain had scored a Test century in Australia since Charlotte Edwards did so at Sydney in 2010/11. Heather and Sophie then held on for an unbroken partnership for the ninth wicket till stumps came.
Earlier, Australia, resuming from 327/7 on day two, batted for just 28 minutes, yielding 10 runs and two wickets. Annabel Sutherland and Jess Jonassen were bowled and caught behind respectively by Katherine to claim her third Test five-wicket haul, finishing with 5/60 as Australia declared at 337/9.
Australia could have got England out cheaply but Heather’s rearguard efforts and Sophie remaining defiant meant that the hosts will have to work hard on day to force a draw or even an unlikely victory.
Brief Scores: Australia 337/7 declared in 104.1 overs (Meg Lanning 93, Rachael Haynes 86; Katherine Brunt 5/60, Nat Sciver 3/41) lead England 235/8 in 87 overs (Heather Knight 127 not out, Sophie Ecclestone 27 not out; Ellyse Perry 2/35, Annabel Sutherland 2/52) by 102 runs.