Women's Ashes Tour Match
Smashing Ash, Mega-star Lanning see Aussies to victory
Meg Lanning's return to form and Ashleigh Gardner's starring show see Australia make it two from two in their pre-Ashes warm-up games
Laura Jolly at Haslegrave Ground, Loughborough
29 June 2019, 08:30 AM AEST
A brilliant knock from Meg Lanning and fireworks from Ashleigh Gardner have helped Australia to a promising 68-run warm-up win over an England Academy team in Loughborough.
The 50-over hit-out at Haslegrave Ground was Australia’s second and final practice match before the multi-format women’s Ashes officially begin on Tuesday in Leicester and there were pleasing signs for the tourists on a good batting deck – although a superb innings from one England batter will provide food for thought ahead of the series opener.
Batting first, Lanning’s 96 laid the foundation for Australia before Gardner’s stunning 59no from 31 deliveries propelled them to 5-337.
The England Academy team fell 68 runs short in reply, but Fran Wilson’s outstanding 87-ball 91 will likely have sealed her place in England’s XI for that ODI opener and Australia will be thinking how to stop the talented right-hander should they meet again in the coming days.
With Australia batting first, Nicole Bolton returned to the top of the order after missing Wednesday’s practice match due to a cold. The Western Australian found the boundary four times in a 43-ball 34, sharing a 71-run opening stand with Alyssa Healy before falling to the bowling of left-arm spinner Alex Hartley.
Her dismissal brought Lanning to the crease, with the Australian skipper batting through the pain of a sore ankle – the result of a mishap in the nets at training on Thursday – as she looked to end a run of low warm-up match scores, having been dismissed for 18, 18 and 2 across the last two weeks.
Adding 55 runs for the second wicket with Healy – who continued her ominous show of pre-Ashes form with a 59-ball 52 – Lanning took five balls to get off the mark but worked her way into her innings, bringing up a half-century from 65 deliveries before upping the ante.
A century beckoned for the Australian captain, only for her to fall four runs short when she spooned a simple catch to Kirstie Gordon off the bowling of Alice Davidson-Richards in the 42nd over.
Ellyse Perry also fell trying to pick up the pace two balls later, leaving Australia 4-244.
With two fresh batters at the crease in Gardner and Rachael Haynes, the Academy may have felt they were in a good position to restrict the tourists, but what followed was a stunning display of power hitting, with Gardner the lead culprit.
The pair blasted 93 runs from the final 8.2 overs to lift Australia to 5-337, Haynes run out for 22 on the final ball of the innings.
Gardner carted Bryony Smith for 20 runs in four deliveries in the 49th over and continued the attack in the last, bringing up a 28-ball half-century with her fourth maximum, before clearing the ropes for a fifth time next ball to finish unbeaten on 59 from just 31 deliveries.
Chasing a hefty target, experienced opener Lauren Winfield, a member of the ODI squad that met West Indies earlier this month, missed an opportunity to push for a recall, dismissed for 16.
Instead, it was fellow squad member Wilson – who made headlines around the world for the stunning diving catch she took in the third ODI against West Indies – who made a serious case to play in Tuesday’s opening Ashes encounter with her 91.
With head coach Mark Robinson watching on, Wilson took to the Australian bowling attack, striking sixes off the bowling of Georgia Wareham and Delissa Kimmince. Wilson played in England’s third one-dayer against the West Indies earlier this month in the absence of rested allrounder Natalie Sciver, but her brilliant knock on Friday will give selectors plenty of food for thought before the game at Leicester’s Grace Road – and could potentially force Danni Wyatt out of the XI.
Despite Wilson’s efforts and a snappy 27-ball 28 from England hopeful Sophia Dunkley, the England Academy never looked like reaching the Australian total as the tourists struck regular blows, the hosts finishing on 9-269.
Gardner backed up her heroics with the bat to collect two wickets, finishing with 2-19 from four overs, while Perry (2-29 off seven) and Megan Schutt (2-35 off six) were the other multiple wicket-takers.
Jess Jonassen went unrewarded for an economical effort, finishing with 0-15 from five, while Nicola Carey’s 1-32 off seven did her case for inclusion in Tuesday’s opener no harm.
The Australian squad will travel to Leicester on Saturday to prepare for Tuesday’s Ashes opener, while England will meet Australia ‘A’ in a 50-over trial game at Haslegrave Ground on Saturday.
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