While the scorecard of this weekend’s pink-ball practice match in Canberra will forever read a draw the Australians will leave the nation’s capital feeling like winners having gleaned invaluable information.
First Australia’s batters enjoyed time facing the pink ball in broad sunshine and under lights as they amassed totals of 8-272 declared and 9-287 declared.
Returning opener Beth Mooney scored 118 and allrounder Ellyse Perry posted 58 on Friday before Elyse Villani batter through the night of day two and morning of day three to record 70.
In all, Australia’s top six all faced at least 70 deliveries against the fluorescent pink ball that much to the surprise of the batting core held its shape and remained harder than expected.
When the bowlers had a chance they struck early under the sextet of towering light towers before found the going tough once the shine and swing deserted the ball.
Australia’s quicks all moved the pink ball through the air, in particular once the sun set, led by spearhead Megan Schutt, whose three wickets for the match were all clean bowled by balls that moved dangerously through the cool Canberra air.
Perry bowled with good pace and Lauren Cheatle improved each spell, seam-bowling allrounder Tahlia McGrath – playing for ACT – picked up three top-order wickets in four balls, while Amanda-Jade Wellington bowled well without much luck in the match.
But despite possessing a star-studded bowling attack, the Australians failed to bowl out their unheralded opponents in two attempts. An unbeaten century to Angela Reakes and 61no to South Africa import Marizanne Kapp was the backbone of ACT’s first innings of 7-290 declared, but their undefeated 112-run stand was the reality check practice games are designed for.
Villani, speaking after day two, said if Australia had their time again they would have looked to build scoreboard pressure once the ball stopped swinging and the Reakes-Kapp partnership was well established. A valuable lesson learnt only through trial and error in an unfamiliar format.
The Australians were more ruthless with the ball on day three after declaring at drinks midway through the evening session, with Schutt castling two batters before dinner.
Haynes rotated through her bowling stocks in the final period of play as ACT limped to 3-68 and a draw.
The match in Canberra mirrored the fixture in Blacktown, where England played against a Cricket Australia XI squad who used 11 bowlers in the tourists’ first innings.
Having bowled out England for 231, the CA XI responded with 271 due in large to Naomi Stalenberg’s 114 as Heather Knight’s troops, like their Women’s Ashes counterparts, found it difficult to conjure wickets with the old ball.
Sarah Taylor’s 85no was the batting pillar of England’s second innings of 7-305 declared before the CA XI cruised to stumps against a Katherine Brunt-less attack.
So what does it all mean with now only four sleeps until the start of the first-ever day-night Ashes Test at North Sydney Oval?
Well, it means both sides have now batted against, bowled with and fielded the pink ball under lights and should be primed for a massive Test match from Thursday.
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