The warm-up match for the tests leg of the Women’s Ashes concluded last week with Australia getting valuable game-time in the longest form of the game. Australia played a 3-day test match against England Academy Women from 11th to 13th July in Marlborough which served as a practice match ahead of the Women’s Ashes Test.
Australia elected to bat first and use the momentum gained from the ODIs to spend some time in the crease and get used to the conditions.
Australia started well with both openers Alyssa Healy and Nicole Bolton getting a good start by making 33 and 41 respectively. They had a relatively quick opening partnership of 55 runs before Alyssa Healy got out to Kristie Gordon. Nicole Bolton eased her way to 41 with the company of Ellyse Perry to take the score to 98 before getting out to Kristie again. Meg Lanning fell for 14 runs off 31 balls to Bryony Smith and Perry fell to Alex Hartley soon after as Australia lost their 4th wicket for just 127 runs.
Rachel Haynes and Beth Mooney came together and formed a solid partnership as Haynes worked her way to 47 runs off 109 balls before she chose not to continue her innings further. Mooney was more fluent in the crease as she made a century of 138 balls hitting 15 fours and end her innings unbeaten. After Mooney departed, Sophie Molineux completed a fluent half-century with the company of Ashleigh Gardner. Gardner was bowled by Freya Davies for 8 when Australia ended their first innings at 360/5 declared with Molineux scoring 65 off just 62 balls with 10 fours and staying unbeaten.
In reply, England Academy got off to a poor start with Lauren Winfield was caught by Nicola Carey off the bowling of Ellyse Perry for 16 runs. Tayla Vlaeminck got into the act with an impressive performance and removed Bryony Smith (14) and Fran Wilson (8) in quick succession with England Academy Women reaching 49/3 at the end of day’s play.
The next day began with Ellyse Perry picking up the first wicket of the morning when Danielle Wyatt edged the ball to Alyssa Healy when she was on 12. Sophia Dunkley was out plumb lbw to Tayla Vlaeminck for 5. In the very next over, Emma Lamb was dismissed with the ball being caught by Sophie Molineux off her own bowling. Alice Davidson-Richards was dismissed by Vlaeminck for naught and Georgie Boyce was dismissed by Ashleigh Gardner to have England Academy staring at a possible follow-on at the score of 89/8.
However, Mady Villiers and Elanor Threlkeld stitched a good partnership of 68 runs for the ninth wicket. Mady Villiers was on her way to a half-century to bring England Academy within sight of the follow-on mark before Threlkeld was dismissed by Georgia Wareham. She finally reached her 50 of 93 balls to push England beyond the follow-on mark of 160 as Kristie Gordon fell to Wareham for naught as the innings closed at 165 all out.
Tayla Vlaeminck, seeking her debut appearance in the Ashes test, staked her claim with a four-wicket haul. Ellyse Perry and Georgia Wareham picked up 2 wicket each as Sophie Molineux and Ashleigh Gardner picked up a wicket apiece.
Coming to bat for Australia Women again, Alyssa Healy and Nicole Bolton departed for 6 runs each as Beth Langston struck with their wickets. Meg Lanning fell soon after to Kristie Gordon to make it 37/3 for Australia. She also accounted for Ashleigh Gardner for 17 runs with the score on 66/4.
When Jess Jonassen joined Ellyse Perry for the fifth wicket, the pair ensured that they do not lose more wickets. This led to a rebuilding as the pair added 120 runs in almost 30 overs. When Jess Jonassen departed for 44 dismissed by Gordon, they had taken Australia to 186/5 and a commanding lead of 381. Perry brought forward another century as Mooney got out to Gordon at stumps.
After the fall of Mooney’s wicket, Perry, with the support of Sophie Molineux boosted the score to 240 before she got out to Gordon. She also claimed the wicket of Nicola Carey when she was batting on 21. Georgia Wareham soon followed, clean bowled by Hartley for 4. Sophie Molineux scored an unbeaten 33 off 27 balls as Australia declared at 274/9 leaving England Academy 470 runs to get to win the match. Kristie Gordon was the pick of the bowlers taking 6 wickets.
England Academy lost Bryony Smith early as Tayla Vlaemanick struck having caught the ball off her own bowling. There was a 98-run partnership between Laura Winfield and Fran Wilson as they reached 111 runs when Fran was dismissed by Sophie Molineux for a well-made half century. Winfield also perished to Molineux for 49 with the score on 140 for 3. England Academy started losing quick wickets and collapsed to 165/6 with Sophia Dunkley clean bowled by Molineux for 5 and Georgie Boyce out for a duck. Dannielle Wyatt tried to arrest the slide but was also dismissed for 31. With contributions from Alice Davidson-Richards and Emma Lamb, they managed to stretch to 229 all out losing by a huge margin of 240 runs.
With both Molineux and Vlaeminck picking up a five-wicket haul each in the match and Gardner picking up 4 wickets, it seems the Australian bowlers are ready for the test match. Among the batting department, Ellyse Perry has scored a century in the 2nd innings while Mooney and Molineux were among the runs in the first innings.
It is clear that the Australian players are more than ready to take on England in the tests, an ominous sign for the hosts. They already have conceded 6 points in the ODI leg and cannot afford another loss. Another slip-up for England would mean that they would have conceded the Ashes to Australia. The test match begins on 18th July at Taunton. If this match is to be taken into account, we can be rest assured that 4 days will be enough to have a result in the test and that the winner of the Women’s Ashes can be decided come July 21st.