Australia coach Matthew Mott has questioned England’s motives in the day-night Women’s Ashes, suggesting the tourists played for a draw from the opening day.
The match ended in a stalemate when both sides agreed to call the match off an hour early on Sunday with no result deemed possible on a benign pitch that yielded just 21 wickets across four days of attritional cricket.
The draw meant the Ashes adversaries spilt the four points on offer to keep the multi-format series alive heading into the T20 international leg, with Australia needing to win just one of the three matches while England need to sweep the series to regain the trophy.
But Mott indicated England were playing for the draw from the outset after finishing day one at 7-235 from 100 overs after winning the toss and electing to bat.
“I think both teams have got to be honest about whether they were trying to win the Test match,” Mott said.
“To bat with pretty minimal intent on day one when you get the best of the conditions, I think if you’re going to sit back and say you’re trying to win the Test is not in my realms of thinking.
“We certainly would’ve been disappointed with that scoring rate on day one. That slowed the whole Test match up and made it difficult to get 20 wickets for both teams.”
While both sides have lamented the docile playing surface, Mott praised his bowlers for dismissing the visitors for 280 midway through the afternoon on day two, but from there only 11 wickets fell in the next 211 overs.
Australia posted a 168-run first-innings lead off the back of Ellyse Perry’s brilliant record-breaking 213no before England dug in and batted out three-and-a-half sessions to draw the match.
“I thought it was a monumental effort for us to bowl them out for 280 given they won the toss and batted first on that wicket,” Mott said.
“We were really pleased with that, but I suppose that backed us into a bit of a corner with the game taking a slow path, that we had to bat big in that first innings and get right ahead and roll the dice that we could get 10 wickets and not have to bat again.
“It certainly wasn’t the way we wanted to play the Test but I’m pretty sure if there was maybe a bit more grass on day one and two, (and it) got the first innings through a bit quicker, that we might have seen that result.”
Both sides now turn their focus to the T20s and after the draw in Sydney. England coach Mark Robinson believes his charges have the momentum heading into Friday’s first match at North Sydney Oval.
“What we managed to do is keep the series alive, keep the tour alive, which is all you can do really,” Robinson said after play on Sunday.
“You want to be in the contest as long as you can and alive.
“Hopefully we’ll win the first one and then we go to the next game.
“Hopefully (win the second T20I) and then we have a right humdinger in the last one.
“You’ve got to do it game by game. We’ll have kept some momentum and we’ll hopefully make the most of that come next Friday.”
Despite requiring just one win to retain the trophy, Mott is taking nothing for granted in the most unpredictable format of the game.
“It’s the one format where you do roll the dice a little bit,” he said.
“In Test cricket usually the best team wins, no doubt. One-day cricket to an extent, but sometimes someone will have a day out and take the game away from you in T20.
“You’ve got to be mindful of that but we’ve had some good success against them in T20 over the last couple of years, so we’re confident heading in to the series and it’s still right up there for grabs.”
Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes
Australia lead England 6-4
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 Match drawn
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