ENGLAND Women made a vibrant start in their quest to win a third consecutive Ashes series as they defeated Australia by four wickets in the opening one-day international.
The Lionesses impressed with some resolute bowling and fielding, before Natalie Scriver and Lydia Greenway’s fifth-wicket partnership of 122 helped England recover from 80-4 to all but secure their opening victory.
Australia won the toss and chose to bat first, fancying their chances against a batting-friendly pitch in Taunton.
But their choice did little to deter England, who started the match in confident fashion. Barnsley bowler Katherine Brunt took consecutive wicket maidens to dismiss Australia’s Elyse Velani, who chipped the ball straight to Edwards at square-leg before Jess Jonassen directed the ball into her stumps in the following over. Kate Cross was then rewarded with her first Ashes wicket after just four balls as she forced an lbw to pin back the Australians at 35-3.
However, a 121-run fourth-wicket partnership between Ellyse Perry and Alex Blackwell allowed Australia to recover well and enabled the Southern Stars to restore their innings to somewhat frustrate England, who missed two golden opportunities to catch each of the batters.
Blackwell was eventually run out for 58 by Heather Knight, which triggered the first of four blows for Australia as superb fielding from England stemmed Australia’s target of 250.
Perry, who passed 1,000 ODI runs when she reached 27 in this innings, finally bowed out of the game after Sciver took a brilliant catch above her head to halt her run tally at 78 before her team were bowled out for 238-9.
Scriver continued her excellent match form as England took to the field to bat and her intelligent innings proved vital in securing her side’s victory. The 22-year old was, unsurprisingly, named player of the match courtesy of her nine boundaries in an innings of 66. Her impressive display also helped the experienced Greenway to settle into the game who went on to score a patient innings of 53.
Had it not been for the terrific partnership and intelligent batting from both players, it could have very well been a different story. England found themselves in a precarious position by the time Scriver joined Greenway, four wickets down for just 80 and with 30 overs to see out. Captain Charlotte Edwards had been the first to go after she edged on to her stumps on 15 and was caught by the formidable Perry.
Heather Knight and Amy Jones fell easily, while the dangerous Sarah Taylor could only manage a credible 30 before she was caught from behind by Osborne.
The pressure was certainly on England and it took Sciver and Greenway’s composure to test Lanning’s captaincy as the 23-year-old was required to regularly rotate her seamers and spinners – although her team could not come up with the goods.
England’s victory means that they have earned two points out of a further 14 available from their remaining six games that await them in the series. Scriver, who scored her highest ever one-day international, said, “It was so nice to get out there and put a good performance in for the first game of the series.”
“It was a nice pitch to bat on, which helped me, but we have been working very hard on a new positive brand of cricket, which is more exciting to watch.”
The second of three ODIs takes place at Bristol on Thursday, after which the teams play one Test – worth four points to the winner – and three Twenty20s.
Featured image: bbc.co.uk