Australian national women’s team head coach Matthew Mott praised the endeavour and efforts of his younger players after the only Women’s Ashes Test ended in a draw after a dramatic final hour of play.
“As everyone’s mentioned it’s the young players that were stepping up, the learning curve was steep today,” he said.
“Those two youngsters, Annabel [Sutherland] when she went around the wicket for a bit was just really good tactics to try and slow the game up.
“I think the Test match we played against India, Annabel was good. We communicated at the start of the summer, we didn’t know where she was going to fit into the Test match side.
“I think she was our best bowler in that Test match and she proved to be pretty critical today. She is set up really well for Test cricket, her batting is great although it is a tough top six to break into but she’s definitely a top six batter.
“She will also be an opening bowler or first change, so she’s got a bright future for us in this format. Even the way she bowled out there today she’s definitely putting her hand up there for the ODIs.”
Annabel Sutherland was outstanding, bowling in the end spell of the match she produced figures of 3/69, including the dismissal of the dangerous Nat Sciver on a quickfire 58 off 62 balls.
She also took the wickets of wicket-keeper batter Amy Jones and fast bowler Katherine Brunt.
Similarly, Alana King finished with a bowling figure of 2/39, keeping the English batters nervous with her leg-spinning deliveries.
She delivered the wickets that effectively stopped England’s run at victory, dismissing Sophia Dunkley who was batting at a strike rate of 140, and Charlie Dean, which brought about the last wicket being within play for the Aussies.
“You can’t speak highly enough of Kingy [Alana King],” Mott said.
“I think in your first Test match to bowl that well, to bowl really well in the first innings, [it was] a really different role but she held her nerve and she will get plenty out of that.”
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Late on day four, the Test was poised for a fascinating finish after Australian captain Meg Lanning and her team declared 7/216, setting England a score of 257 from 48 overs.
Needing 5.35 runs an over to win, the English set about ambitiously batting for the win, and looked primed to steal victory as the target got closer quickly.
“It was as intense as the dressing room has been for a while, especially when they had that partnership between Knight and Sciver, I think they batted beautifully,” Mott said.
Nat Sciver hit 58 runs from 62 balls with her batting partner Heather Knight, who nearly scored a Test half-century when her team really needed her to.
The swashbuckling innings of 23-year-old Sophia Dunkley hitting 45 runs off 32 balls with 91 runs required was what her team needed.
“There were definitely some nervous moments and when you make a declaration like that there are a lot of calculations that go into it, we thought we got it right, we ended up getting it pretty close,” Mott said.
“I thought it was England’s to win and I thought we did well to get back in the game and nearly stole it.
“Both teams went out there to endeavour to get a Test match and England, when we had the ascendency after they sent us in, when you score 320 in a day, to fight back in a Test match shows their quality.
“Throughout the whole time, everyone was trying to go for a result.”
Mott had high praise after the draw when asked about his skipper, her tactics during the match, and whether they can take anything away from a drawn Test match.
“I thought Meg was outstanding with her bowling change-ups.
“I don’t think she missed a beat, every time we were thinking something, she tried it. I think it was really gutsy to bring Darcie [Brown] on when she did, and that wicket was pretty critical.”
Brown finished with one wicket and went for 18 runs off her five overs. The wicket she picked up in Heather Knight started the momentum shift into the Aussies favour.
“I think the word momentum is overrated, we’ve got three big ODIs to come and they [England] can take a lot out of them as well,” Mott said.
“I think both teams are up and about at the moment and not sure what to make of it.
“We’ve got a couple of days to chill out, debrief and get our head around the ODIs, which are not only critical for this series, but leading into a world cup too.
“We set it up well and it was everyone’s to win at the end there, every result was possible. I think it was a great advertisement for women’s cricket and particularly Test match cricket.”
Mott also gave a selection hint, with Australian star bowler Megan Schutt sure to be included in the ODI team on Thursday.
While having her available once again is great news for the Aussies, who is omitted from the team would no doubt be a selection headache.
“Megan will definitely come in, she would kill me if she didn’t,” Mott laughed.
“She’s been fantastic around this decision, we communicated it pretty early that it wasn’t going to be in her best interests.
“I think the medical team have worked really hard on that but she will definitely come back in for the first couple of ODIs and hopefully all three and lead into the World Cup.”
Australia and England will play the first of three One Day International matches on Thursday at Manuka Oval. The second and third ODIs will be played on Sunday and the following Tuesday at the Junction Oval in Melbourne.
Those players not selected will play in the Australia A vs England A game on Wednesday at Solar Park in Canberra.
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