There’s a new ball taking women’s limited-overs cricket by storm and on Sunday it was near unplayable.
It’s not a flipper or a zooter or a doosra, nor is it a slider or a knuckle ball or delivery named ‘Jeff’. Nope, they’ve all been done before, most of them by Shane Warne.
No, this one is called the ‘whiff’, a ball bowled by England seam bowler Jenny Gunn, a ball so slow it’s incredibly difficult to hit with any power or precision.
It accounted for the wicket of Ashleigh Gardner in the first ODI in Brisbane, who had so long to wait for the ball she ended up, somehow, toe-ending it to point.
It took the wicket of Tahlia McGrath on Thursday in Coffs Harbour, as the batter was unable to control a sweep shot against a ball that floated its way down the pitch.
It claimed the wicket of Alex Blackwell on Sunday, a ballooning ball at 66kph – slower than an average spinner – that was caught in the deep by Nat Sciver.
And it’s a ball that England captain Heather Knight describes as “probably the most effective ball I’ve seen in world cricket".
“She (Gunn) doesn’t like saying she’s made a career out of it but she has, she’s been brilliant.
“She hates bowling it but it’s the most effective ball on big boundaries and as the wicket got slightly slower towards the end.”
While Knight is a huge fan of the delivery – most likely because she doesn’t have to face it in a match – Australia’s Alyssa Healy is less than pleased.
Not just with Gunn’s ‘whiff’ ball, but the way England take all the pace off the ball in the closing stages of an innings to force the batters to generate all the power.
“From my point of view it’s a frustrating part of the game but in saying that it’s been quite effective,” Healy said.
“For us, especially heading in to the T20s at the back end of the series it’s going to be important for us to look at that and look at ways that we’re going to be able to score and combat that.
“Jenny Gunn has done that successfully in the past 12-18 months.
“We’ll just sit back, watch a bit of footage and work out a plan as to how to combat that and still score quite freely.”
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