Women's Ashes ODIs
Ashleigh’s Ashes? Big hitter fires warning shot
England’s players watched on as Australia’s batters all found form as they piled on 5-337 in their final pre-Ashes warm-up game
Laura Jolly in Loughborough
29 June 2019, 11:18 AM AEST
If England were wondering what sort of form Australia’s batters will carry into the women’s Ashes, they can wonder no longer.
Members of the England one-day squad were watching on at England’s training base at Loughborough University on Friday as Meg Lanning’s Australians cruised a 68-run win over a strong England Academy team, their second warm-up victory in three days.
Batting first, Australia piled on 337 runs for the loss of five wickets, capping off a preparation that’s seen all of their top seven spend valuable time in the middle ahead of Tuesday’s Ashes opener in Leicester.
Leading the way on Friday were skipper Lanning, who fell just four runs shy of a century despite nursing a sore ankle after slipping in the nets the previous day.
But perhaps most ominous for England’s players as they watched on was master blaster Ashleigh Gardner, who was scintillating in her 31-ball innings of 59no that featured five sixes.
The allrounder usually bats at No.7 in Australia’s one-day side and is viewed a player who can provide the late-innings explosion required to produce massive totals. But she has been somewhat hit-and-miss in that role in her 14 ODI innings to date, averaging 19.37 (but boasting the enviable strike rate of 129.70).
Friday’s display – albeit coming against what was at times somewhat wayward bowling – was the 22-year-old putting into practice the more level-headed, yet equally deadly approach she’s been working on.
Making the most of being elevated to No.5 and coming in with more than eight overs remaining, Gardner scored just three runs from the first 10 deliveries she faced before teeing off, striking a eye-watering 34 runs from the seven deliveries she faced in the final two overs.
"It was great to get a chance to go up the order and play my natural way, " Gardner said after Australia wrapped up a 68-run win.
"I started a little bit slower, but they bowled into my swinging arc a few times and it got me underway.
"Today I accumulated a few (dot balls) to get into my innings, which is something I need to keep in mind; that there are actually more balls than I realise.
"I would love to spend even more time out there, but (coming in towards the end of the innings) does give me that opportunity and freedom (to attack)."
Wednesday’s six-wicket victory saw
Rachael Haynes (55) and Beth Mooney (45no) lead the way with the bat in Wednesday’s opening warm-up game that was shortened by rain, but all the Australians prospered on Friday’s in batting-friendly conditions.
In addition to Lanning and Gardner, Alyssa Healy (52) hit a half-century while Ellyse Perry (46) fell just shy of the milestone, and opener Nicole Bolton (34) found the boundary four times after missing the first warm-up due to illness.
"I think it was a really good all-round performance," Gardner said
"I think compared to the last game, we batted with a little bit more intent, knowing we had 50 overs.
"We always say 300 is our blueprint and that’s something we strive for every game. Obviously we have to take in the conditions, but it was batting wicket today, so we knew it was a big score we had to put on the table.
"It was great to see Meg make so many runs. It would have been amazing to see a hundred but it was good to see her back in the form I know she’s capable of."
Australia travel to Leicester on Saturday where they’ll continue their preparations for Tuesday’s first Ashes ODI at Grace Road.
CommBank Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Nicole Bolton, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
July 2: First ODI, Grace Road, Leicester
July 11-13: England Academy v Australia, Marlborough College, Swindon
July 18-21: Only Test, The County Ground, Taunton
July 26: First T20, County Ground, Chelmsford
July 28: Second T20, The County Ground, Hove
A Test victory is worth four points (two each for a draw), two points are awarded for ODI and T20 wins