Australia finish with four wins out of seven

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The Southern Stars have crushed England in the final match of the Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes series, cruising to a seven-wicket victory in the 19th over.

While England retains the Ashes trophy, the Australians can take some consolation in winning two of the three T20 Internationals ahead of the ICC WT20 World Cup in March.

A four-wicket haul for Rene Farrell and outstanding work in the field helped Australia restrict England to 8-101, while opener Elyse Villani batted through the Southern Stars innings, scoring an unbeaten 36 off 47 deliveies to guide her side home with nine balls remaining.

The Australian top three all contributed to the run chase, opener Alyssa Healy (22 runs off 28 balls) and Meg Lanning (23 runs off 20 balls) offering solid support to Villani, who finished with 36 runs of 47 balls.

Healy and Villani added 48 runs in the first eight overs before Healy lofted an Arran Brindle delivery straight to Lydia Greenway.

Lanning, who has hit a rich vein of form in the T20 matches, looked dangerous as she started to find the boundary rope, only to find Kate Cross as she tried to clear the rope at deep square leg.

Earlier, a blistering opening spell by Farrell had paved the way for a ruthless bowling and fielding display from the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars.

After Lanning won the toss and sent England in to bat, Farrell, along with Holly Ferling, made life tough for the tourists from the start.

Farrell took the wicket of Lauren Winfield with her second ball, the opener slashing a wide delivery straight to Jess Jonassen at point and departing for a duck.

But Farrell’s second over was even better.

Charlotte Edwards (12 runs off 16 balls), looking to hit over the top of mid-on, couldn’t quite get hold of a wider delivery and T20I debutant Nicole Bolton pulled of a terrific catch, sprinting to her left and juggling the ball as she dived, finally making it stick in one hand as she hit the turf.

After the next ball England were suddenly 3-15, when Lydia Greenway edged Farrell’s outswinging delivery to wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy.

Nat Sciver survived the hat-trick ball and steadied the England innings with Sarah Taylor, until Taylor (22 runs off 20 balls) hoisted Megan Schutt straight to Bolton at long-on.

Standing in as skipper once more for the injured Jodie Fields, Lanning set the tone in the field.

The captain took a stunning catch, the right-hander diving full stretch at mid-on and snatching the ball with her left hand to dismiss Arran Brindle for six.

As they tried to lift the run-rate the England batters took on the fielders and paid the price, the Southern Stars claiming two run outs in one Erin Osborne over.

Sciver looked to be the key after racing to 28 runs off 33 balls, but was run out after she was sent back by Dani Wyatt, Alex Blackwell proving to be too quick in the covers.

Four balls later Wyatt was also gone, this time Lanning, again fielding at mid-on, ran in and fired the ball back at the stumps to score a direct hit that left England 7-79, and in danger of not making triple figures for the second match in a row.

They managed to squeak past the hundred mark, but Farrell did return to take a wicket with her final ball, clean bowling Dani Hazell for nine.

While England won the multi-format series 10-8, the Southern Stars won four games out of seven.

The tourists’ victory in the solitary Test netted them six invaluable points and, after they followed up with a win in the first One-Day International to move to eight points, it gave the Australians the difficult task of needing to win each remaining game, worth two points each.

It proved to be one win too many for the home side, England securing the trophy with a nine-wicket victory in the first T20 match in Hobart.