After month of enthralling, captivating and pulsating cricket in the Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes Series, not much has changed.
Australia still hold the Ashes. England are still the No.1 team in the world. Ellyse Perry is still the best allrounder on the planet. Sarah Taylor is the fastest wicketkeeper going around, regardless of gender.
The multi-format series was spilt 8-all, with Australia taking out the ODI series 2-1, England the T20I series 2-1 and the historic first-ever day-night Test points shared after the match was drawn.
Along the way new stars were discovered, old heroes reborn and class acts cemented their legacy, while records tumbled in front of thousands of fans in attendance and millions watching right around the globe.
It started in Brisbane, where that coveted blend of youth and experience delivered Australia a tense two-wicket win to kick-off their Ashes defence in style. Veteran Alex Blackwell navigated her side to victory with an unbeaten 67, while 20-year-old allrounder Ashleigh Gardner delivered the knockout blow with a stunning 27-run cameo.
The tour moved south to the coastal town of Coffs Harbour, where Australia skipper Rachael Haynes, tasked with filling the cavernous shoes of the injured Meg Lanning, proved her worth as a leader and a batter with a bruising 56-ball 89 as the hosts made it two from two.
England needed a captain’s knock to avoid an ODI whitewash and that’s what Heather Knight delivered. Her unbeaten 88 propelled her side to a match-winning total despite the best efforts of Australia swing bowler Megan Schutt, who finished the ODI leg with 10 wickets to her name.
The teams separated to prepare for the pink-ball twilight Test and when they were reunited they were greeted by brilliant sunshine, a magnificent North Sydney Oval and fans in their droves.
The match will be remembered twofold. One for Perry’s remarkable 213no, the highest Women’s Test score by an Australian and the third best in history, and another for the match-saving partnership between Knight and Nat Sciver on the final day to ensure the series stayed alive heading into the final leg.
At the same venue five days later, Beth Mooney made certain the Ashes weren’t going anywhere with a sensational innings of 89no to retain the trophy the Australians had won two years earlier in England.
The visitors hit back in the nation’s capital two days later thanks to an all-round performance from trailblazer Katherine Brunt, who returned to form a quick-fire 32 and 2-10 from four overs.
The best was saved for last. Mooney one-upped her effort in Sydney with a sparkling century yesterday, her 117no the second-highest Women’s T20I score ever to lift Australia to 2-178, only for Danni Wyatt, a player who five days before had scored her maiden 50 for England, one-upped the Queenslander with a blistering 100 to deliver her side a win in the greatest run chase in Women’s T20Is of all time.
And that’s just a fraction of what went down on the field. There were bulk debutants, incredible catches, unbelievable dropped catches, run-outs, stumpings, a female ‘Gatting Ball’ – you name it, the Women’s Ashes probably had it.
Now it’s all over.
“I think it’s a fair result,” Knight said after play. “To finish 8-8, I think both teams played some brilliant cricket.
“Megan Schutt was outstanding, I’m quite surprised she didn’t get player of the series to be honest.
“We didn’t start very well, and that’s what cost us in the end. After those first two ODIs we were always going to be struggling to force a result.
“But the girls have fought so hard and tried to stay in it as much as they can. In the context of the series, it’s a fair result.”
Australia set out what they intended to do, but coach Matthew Mott couldn’t hide the fact chances were wasted along the way.
“I think we missed opportunities,” he said on Tuesday evening. “We missed an opportunity in Coffs Harbour to bury them, to go up 3-nil.
“The T20 the other night (on Sunday), we had another good start and missed the opportunity to bury them.
“To me, it’s a just a series of missed opportunity.
“I think we’re the better cricket team, but we can’t really say that because it ended up 8-all.
“But we retained the Ashes and at the end of the day we’re happier than them.
“They’re probably happier tonight, but we’ll have the Ashes and we’ll have them until we play them again.
“We set out to win the Ashes and that’s what we’ve done.”
The series was hard-fought but in the right spirit, a wonderful testament to women’s cricket as a product, the players who competed and the support staff who got those players prepared.
And that’s not to mention the countless souls behind the scenes that organized, operated, planned and promoted the series. A performance worthy of raising the bat.
Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes
Australia drew England 8-8
Australia T20 squad: Sarah Aley, Alex Blackwell, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes (c), Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Molly Strano, 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 Australia won by six wickets
North Sydney Charity Partner: McGrath Foundation
Second T20 England won by 40 runs
Third T20 Manuka Oval, November 21
Canberra Charity Partner: Lord's Taverners ACT