If Australia’s three-day day-night hit out in Canberra had dual objectives of practicing against the pink ball and penciling in players for next week’s twilight Women's Ashes Test, then those goals were more than satisfactorily met after day one on Friday.
Opener Beth Mooney answered her recall with a chanceless century while Australia’s quicks swung the new fluorescent pink ball in dismantling an ACT Invitational XI top-order under humming floodlights at Manuka Oval to leave the hosts in recovery mode at 4-71 at stumps.
Mooney’s 118, retired undefeated midway through the evening session, was supported by 58 from No.4 and birthday girl Ellyse Perry, along with starts from first-drop Alex Blackwell (28), Elyse Villani (24) and Alyssa Healy (24) as the Australians posted 8-272 from declared from 78.1 overs.
Having been dropped from the ODI XI to accommodate an extra bowler and allow Healy to move up the order, Mooney made sure she would feature in the first-ever day-night Ashes Test match at North Sydney Oval from next Thursday.
The Queenslander struck 16 fours and a six in her 171-ball knock and looked untroubled against an attack that featured start South Africa speedster Marizanne Kapp and Australia squad members Tahlia McGrath, Belinda Vakarewa and Jess Jonassen.
When it was Australia’s turn in the field, left-armer Lauren Cheatle struck with the first delivery of the innings before Perry claimed two wickets and Megan Schutt one by making the ball ‘talk’ through the air and off a pitch which played true all day.
Cheatle, like Mooney, did not feature in the one-day leg of the multi-format Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes Series, but her southpaw point of difference and ability to curve the ball late would see her a handful in the four-day Test.
As one of the trio playing for the ACT, McGrath was imperious on the front foot, driving splendidly and countering the swing with aplomb before her innings of 30 was terminated by Perry, who found a way through the right-hander’s defence and in to her exposed woodwork.
However, it didn’t all go the way of the Australians. Nicole Bolton, Rachael Haynes and Ashleigh Gardner scored eight runs between them, while after the dinner break with the light towers in full effect, a collapse of 4-38 saw Haynes declare earlier than expected.
Medium pacer Hayley Jensen bagged 5-26 from 13.1 overs but Vakarewa, the NSW speedster auditioning for Test selection, bowled only five.
The unknowns around day-night, pink-ball cricket are many, but after a successful day with both bat and ball Australia’s angst might well have eased while their opponents might still be searching for answers.
Playing against a Cricket Australia XI in Sydney’s west, England were bowled out for 231 having faced an attack of 11 different bowlers, before the home side finished the day at 4-82.
Lauren Winfield’s 82 was the only score more than 28 in England’s innings, as Sophie Molineux and Lauren Smith each claimed three wickets.
A 72-run stand between Georgia Redmayne and Nicola Carey came after Katherine Brunt claimed two quick wickets with the new ball before both players were out in the space of seven balls.
Watch the Women’s Ashes Test LIVE and FREE on cricket.com.au and the Cricket Australia Live app, with enhanced coverage thanks to the support of Commonwealth Bank.
Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes
Australia lead England 4-2
Australia squad (ODI and Test): Rachael Haynes (C), Alex Blackwell (VC), Kristen Beams, Nicole Bolton, Lauren Cheatle, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa (Test only), Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington.
England squad: Heather Knight (c), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Sophie Ecclestone, Georgia Elwiss, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Laura Marsh, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor, Nat Sciver, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield, Danielle Wyatt.
First ODI Australia won by two wickets
Second ODI Australia won by 75 runs (DLS method)
Third ODI England won by 20 runs (DLS method)
Day-Night Test North Sydney Oval, November 9-12
First T20 North Sydney Oval, November 17
North Sydney Charity Partner: McGrath Foundation
Second T20 Manuka Oval, November 19
Third T20 Manuka Oval, November 21
Canberra Charity Partner: Lord's Taverners ACT