England’s Ashes Over As Australia Put Them To The Sword In Canberra

England crashed to a disappointing 27-run loss at Canberra’s Manuka Oval
11:04, 03 Feb 2022

England women knew they needed to win the opening One Day International against Australia to keep their faint Ashes hopes alive, but Heather Knight’s side blew a good chance of victory as their hopes went up in smoke Down Under.

England had to beat Australia to stand any chance of ending an eight-year wait to win the title. They trailed the series 6-4 after the three T20 matches and one-off Test match, meaning they needed to win all three remaining 50-over ODI matches with just six more points on offer. However, they crashed to a disappointing 27-run loss at Canberra’s Manuka Oval. And with defeat it was hosts Australia who retained their crown with two games to spare.

What an awful winter it has been for England’s men and women’s senior sides. The men were whitewashed 4-0 in their recent Ashes series, then lost their T20 series 3-2 against the West Indies in the Caribbean. Now England’s women crumbled when they had a decent chance to salvage some national pride.

Poor shot-selection cost England dear, but Australia deserve credit for some fine bowling.

Knight won the toss and put Australia in, opting to chase down their target for victory, but England failed to capitalise on having the home side under the pump.

It was again a case of missed opportunities for the tourists as they had the Aussies on the ropes at 67-4, 125-5, 141-6 and seven-down, well short of a decent total. Beth Mooney led a fine rear-guard, her superb innings of 73 helped Australia recover from 152-7 to edge over the 200-mark. Aussie skipper Meg Lanning also chipped in with an important 28, seeing her become the first Australian to score 4,000 ODI runs.

Mooney was the last out after a brave, battling 133-minute innings which helped the hosts leave England with more runs to chase than they would have liked.

England pace bowler Katherine Brunt again starred with the ball, taking 3-40 from her 10 overs – she took eight wickets in the recent Test clash - while Kate Cross impressed with 3-33 from an inspired spell which really had Australia wobbling.

Cross accounted for Healy and Lanning when they were both well set, while Brunt dismissed Mooney and Tahlia McGrath (29). But when Mooney was dismissed off the final ball of their allotted 50 overs, England had, arguably, already let their opponents score 20-30 runs more than they should have been able to given they were under the pump. It proved crucial in the final run-chase, with England falling frustratingly short.gett

England’s reply could not have been much worse. Experienced opener Tammy Beaumont was dismissed by young quick bowler Darcie Brown for just three in the fourth over of the match, before England’s best batter Knight – who smashed a brilliant unbeaten 168 in the preceding Test match at the same ground – was trapped lbw for a golden duck by Brown.

It was a huge body blow for England, especially because they rely so heavily on Knight to score the bulk of their runs.

Things went from bad to worse when opener Lauren Winfield-Hill was dismissed by seamer Megan Schutt as England crumbled to 39-3 in the 11th over. Natalie Sciver dug deep in a spirited fightback, but when she was caught and bowled by Brown for a patient 45 from 66 balls, England were limping badly at 103-6.

All-rounder Danny Wyatt contributed a useful 20, but she needed to stick around for much longer if England had any chance of winning the match. The end was not far around the corner as Knight’s misfiring team conspired to lose their last five wickets for just 75 runs.

Brunt, playing in her 131st ODI, was the last hope – and she showed her usual metal in making an unbeaten 32 at the death. The experienced all-rounder shared in a spirited last-wicket stand of 24 with Kate Cross, who hit three fours in her 17. Ultimately, England just had too much to do despite having been 22-runs ahead of the run-rate at one stage of proceedings.

It was a huge opportunity missed, with the impressive Brown England’s chief tormentor with a fine spell of 4-34 as Australia deservedly retained the famous Urn.

"It’s just unbelievable,” beamed Mooney, Australia’s Player of the match. 

“We came into this series with one job to do - retain the Ashes and we've done that. We've got another job to do now and win them outright.

"The bowlers absolutely nailed it. They bowled a perfect length. We used the conditions well too - it was skidding on more under lights.”

A gutted Knight admitted: “We lost wickets at regular moments and they bowled well, they kept the stumps in the game and that made it hard to score on that wicket.

“The bowlers did an outstanding job. We came at them, bowled good areas and adapted well to the conditions. 

"We're still in with a chance of drawing the series and that's got to be our focus now.”

Cricket winters don’t get much worse than this for England supporters.

Manuka Oval, Canberra

England won the toss and chose to field

Australia 205-9 (50 overs) – Mooney 73, McGrath 29, Lanning 28, Healy 27, Cross 3-33, Brunt 3-40.

England 178 all out (45 overs) – Sciver 45, Brunt 32 not out, Wyatt 20, Brown 4-34.

Result: Australia beat England by 27 runs

Australia lead the series 8-4 and retain the Ashes with two games remaining.

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