England’s miserable Ashes came crashing to a horrible end as they were resoundingly thrashed by Australia in the last match of a disappointing series.
Heather Knight’s misfiring side won the toss and batted first, but mustered a meagre 163 all out at the CitiPower Centre in Melbourne. In reply their arch-rivals powered to victory with eight wickets to spare, Aussie skipper Meg Lanning fittingly guiding her side to a comprehensive with a staggering 13.4 overs to spare.
Given England’s failure to fire Down Under this winter, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the Aussies won again, especially given this was their 20th consecutive bilateral 50-over One Day International series win. But the worrying way England have just folded under pressure arguably offers the most concern moving forward.
Both the women’s and men’s senior teams have capitulated against their fiercest rivals, offering little for England’s disgruntled supporters and there will likely be plenty of changes going forward as Knight – and her national side – somehow look to restore some national pride.
Knight tried to put a brave face on her side’s thumping defeat – and comprehensive 12-4 series loss after three T20 games, a one-off four-day Test match and three ODIs to finish.
“We went toe-to-toe at certain times, we’ll be frustrated at few big moments we didn’t win,” said Knight.
“But the last two games aren’t a reflection of us as a side.
“It was not the ideal build-up [because of coronavirus], but we made the best of a bad situation.”
England wasted a golden chance to win the Test match. Four points from that match would have seen them lead going into the ODIs, but instead they thew away a potentially winning position, lost wickets for fun – as they did in this match – and found themselves needing to win three ODIs in a row to win the Ashes for the first time in eight years.
Achievable, yes. Likely, no.
“It was a brilliant Test match and gutting that we couldn’t get over the line,” reflected Knight.
“But we haven’t quite nailed it in the ODI series. A few little tweaks we need potentially with the bat and looking forward to getting to New Zealand [for the pending World Cup].
"The way we started the series with the bat was outstanding. We will be a bit frustrated there were a few opportunities missed.
“We were a bit fatigued and a bit tired. Bar today our bowling has been in a really good place.
“We are looking forward to getting to New Zealand and starting again."
Opener Tammy Beaumont (50) and Nat Sciver (46) led a battling recovery after England slipped to 19-2 having lost their first wicket after just eight balls.
Beaumont and Sciver shared in a commendable 88-run third-wicket partnership to steady the ship.
But once again England’s fragile batting line-up collapsed, just when it looked as though they might post a total of some significance.
Seamer Annabel Sutherland ripped through England’s top-order with a fine 4-31 return, whole pace bowler Megan Schutt took two wickets – one of which was to dismiss Sciver – as Australia took control.
And from 107-3 England slumped to 139-8, losing five wickets for just 32 runs.
It was never going to be enough, especially when openers Alyssa Healy (42) and Rachael Haynes (31) posted 74 for the opening wicket.
Healy fell immediately after to Freya Davies, but any hopes of the hosts wobbling quickly evaporated as Lanning led her side to another impressive win.
The skipper hit seven fours and one six in a controlled. unbeaten innings of 57 from 70 balls, while star all-rounder chipped in with an unbeaten 31 from 46 balls as Australia romped to victory inside 40 overs.
It was a sorry end to a sorry series – and it was fitting that Lanning
"We have had so many contributors,” saluted Lanning. “That holds us in good stead moving forwards.
“Today was a complete performance with bat and ball.
“It’s been an outstanding series. There’s always a few spanners that get thrown at us, but we’ve done an extremely good job in adapting the things that have been thrown at us.
“It gives us a lot of confidence. Today was a pretty complete performance. We’ll enjoy this win, it’s a massive achievement then we’ll adjust to those conditions in New Zealand.”
England 163 all out, 49.3 overs (Beaumont 50, Sciver 46, Sutherland 4-31
Australia 164-2, 36.2 overs (Lanning 57*, Healy 42)
Result: Australia won by eight wickets.
Unbeaten Australia won the series 12-4 on the point-based system.