Monday, 27 July 2015

Cricket : Women's ashes update post-ODI series : Aussies looking good to win back the trophy

There's no point in sugar-coating it. A desperately disappointing performance all-round from England handed Australia all the momentum in the women's Ashes series. The visitors will go into the Test match in 2 weeks, 4 -2 ahead in the series, high on confidence and knowing that all they need will be a draw, but expecting a win. England on the other hand appear to be really struggling, and in deep trouble, barely able to scratch together any sort of innings nor able to take many wickets outside the last few overs of games.

Australia batted first and made 241-7 in their 50, whilst England were dismissed for the dismal total of 152 in 43.1 overs, on a damp, grey day in Worcester.


(Fairly matter-of-fact and uncritical) Report:

Some people have claimed that the series would be close - but the facts are that none of the 3 games so far have been. England won the first comfortably enough, since then, we've seen 2 comprehensive Australian victories with England never really getting anywhere near the target they were set.

I said previously that something like a 12-4 series points win for Australia would be no disgrace. England already have half those points. However, my easy-going, laissez-faire attitude towards England giving up the Ashes this time around was predicated on one thing though, and that was a minimum of competitive, solid and workmanlike performances where we gave our all but just come up short, and Australia were just a bit too good.

In the last 2 ODIs, we've not seen that, we've seen a stuttering and poor England side that have failed to take their chances, failed to take wickets at important intervals and worst of all abjectly failed to put bat to ball with anything like the required effectiveness. Let's not kid ourselves, this was a heavy defeat.

Put frankly, it's simply not been good enough from a side that are now professional. Edwards has plenty of questions to find the answers to: Why are Australia getting such good starts?Where are the players who can hit the ball for us and why are they not performing consistently? Why is the fielding not up to standard? And where are the wickets going to come from?

It's not all Edwards' problem. Some other players also need to take a look at themselves and ask if they are doing everything they can to help England win. The big players simply did not step up to the plate today. One single solitary run from our best 2 players, Taylor and Edwards combined; and not a single solitary wicket between the two "strike" bowlers Shrubsole and Brunt, in 20 overs combined. This tells its own story. The rest of them failed pretty badly to put up the kind of fight that even a respectable loss demanded.

The personnel change tactics fell down too. Of the replacements from the second game - Lauren Winfield, Laura Marsh and Jenny Gunn, the two former players had absolute shockers, Winfield scoring just 7 from 26 balls, and being run out in very poor, lazy fashion unbecoming of normally such a dynamic player, and Marsh getting a duck - and going wicketless for 25 runs in 3 overs;  and Gunn was no better than average. It seems unlikely that the original line-up featuring Jones, Cross and Grundy instead could have done much worse. On top of not getting much out of the changes, the England team selectors could well have dented the confidence of all 6 players - 3 for being dropped and the other 3 for not playing well.

All this seems harsh, I know. I still respect all the players, and will always support them, but they need to do much, much better. 

And they can - they are better than this, I know it.

So how will the rest of the series unfold?

To retain the Ashes, we basically need to win the Test match and one of the iT20s. To do this, we need to take 20 wickets in the Test and so pick a team with enough bowling power to do this. It's difficult to see how Kate Cross cannot be involved in that game. England need to work out a plan for getting Lanning and Perry out. Failing that, we need to be much more effective in curtailing their runs, and frustrate them into mistakes.

iT20 is a different matter - Australia quite recently beat us badly and look much more competent in that mode as well; besides, anything can happen in T20 and a 3-0 series loss is well possible. I would regard a 2-1 loss with 4 points to Australia and 2 to us as a good result.

Let's hope today represents a nadir for the England performances this summer. It may well not, given how poorly they batted in last summer's Test match against India at Wormsley. It would be especially galling to lose the Canterbury Test by an innings, with both of our own innings barely summing 250, but such an event is now a distinct possibility. Lanning, Perry, Schutt, Beams, and Farrell all look like potential match-winners and England are wondering where the runs to last 4 days are coming from.

What can England take out of the series going forward? Well, we've seen a welcome return to form from Lydia Greenway, albeit a bit scratchy at times. And one good innings each from captain Charlotte Edwards and Natalie Sciver. And Heather Knight looks to have some fight about her, at least, with both bat and ball, even if she's not in flowing form. Katherine Brunt has looked dangerous with bat and ball, but not taken many wickets yet. Sarah Taylor has looked good at times. There seems little else to shout about. Anya Shrubsole looks off her best with the ball, and in the field; Kate Cross a yard slower and inconsistent in line and length, and Georgia Elwiss promising with bat and ball at times, but not too clever at all in the field.

Edwards' home advantage and familiarity with the ground at Canterbury now seems to mean little, given Australia's dominance. She's not made the best readings of conditions so far in the series. The choice to bowl not bat again today was the wrong one, and was always challenging us to do what we'd failed to do in the previous game which set up a psychological barrier. The rain didn't come, meaning Duckworth-Lewis (always a reason to bowl first when rain's around) played no part, and I doubt there was a over of our innings where we were ahead of the rate anyway. Australia had already proved they could set us too high a total, and it wasn't a bad pitch. Batting wasn't going to get easier as the day went on.

There are some strange similarities with the men's ashes series. Both our men's and women's sides started with an unexpected win, both then lost the subsequent game; and England women have now gone one step further behind in the series. The men are now in the better position. I thought at the start of both series, in contrast to many other observers, that England's men would do better than expected and really push the Aussies, if not win it, whilst I was less hopeful for our women, giving them little chance against Meg Lanning's Southern Stars. Maybe I'm not so wrong after all.

Edwards is still talking us up for the remainder of the series, but then, I guess she has to:

My word, I'm glad I was at Taunton and took loads of photos to prove it!

It's hard to take that the series may well already be over, but that could well turn out to be the case. Rather than Worcester being the nadir, that golden day in Taunton last Tuesday could prove to have been very much the zenith. 

Let's hope England can prove me wrong!

1 comment:

  1. Looking back this does seem a bit harsh now...I'm still massively enthused about the series. Whoever wins it should be a great contest. Really getting behind our team and wishing them the best!

    LOL...also to mention I corrected the urn thing. Didn't realise about that. Probably my fault, but also could have had more coverage of previous wins to cement it in my brain (what there is left of it!)