Women's Ashes Test
Lanning defends Australia's Test tactics
Australia's skipper explains why her side's plans changed throughout the four-day Test match in Taunton
Laura Jolly in Taunton
22 July 2019, 06:47 AM AEST
Australia captain Meg Lanning has defended Australia’s decision to bat out the final two sessions of the drawn women’s Test in Taunton to retain the Ashes, rather than declaring and setting England a target that may have manufactured a result.
Australia were 7-230 in their second innings when the captains shook hands late on Sunday afternoon, a lead of 375 runs.
Heading into the match, both teams declared they would adapt an attacking, positive approach to the one-off Test. For England, their major concern was the fact they needed a victory to keep the multi-format, points-based series alive.
But both teams also had the bigger picture in mind, knowing a good spectacle would help their cause in pushing for more Test cricket in the women’s calendar.
The tame finish led some commentators and former players to question the commitment to that approach – not only of the Australians, but also England, who batted with little intent late on the third day.
Finding this Test extremely difficult to understand the tactics from both teams.— Lisa Sthalekar (@sthalekar93) July 20, 2019
Lanning pointed to the fact England had passed the follow-on mark earlier on Sunday’s final day – at which point they declared and put Australia back in –combined with the relative difficultly of taking wickets on the used Somerset surface and her team’s strong position in the series overall, as factors that determined their approach.
"We thought about (declaring) and had a good chat about what our options were, and whether we could force a result but we sort of looked at how many overs were left, especially given how many wickets were falling," Lanning said after play.
"Test cricket’s supposed to be hard and a tough battle and I think that’s exactly what it was. Both teams were trying to get an advantage. I don’t think it was entirely either team’s fault where we ended up in the game, to be honest.
"At different points we were trying to win it, we just lost time throughout and it got to a point where we felt we couldn’t win the game."
Australia’s dominant position – both in the series and in the Test after winning the toss, batting first and amassing 8-420 declared – meant they held almost all the cards through an afternoon where England could only stand in the field and watch as their faint hopes of keeping the series alive slipped away.
"We weren’t going to throw it open to England to give them a chance," Lanning said.
"We came into the Test match six-nil up and we were in a position to make that decision."
Asked if he’d entertained any thoughts of knocking on the door of the Australian dressing room and asking for a deal during the afternoon of Sunday’s fourth day, England coach Mark Robinson was blunt: "I think they'd have told me where to go."
"I didn't consider that at all," he continued. "We lost two sessions (to rain) which makes it really hard, doesn't it?
"That plays a part. You're watching, I'm involved, desperately trying to find ways to win a match."
"They’re quite within their rights to close up shop and shut the game down and retain them.
"Fair play to them. We’ve got to congratulate Australia: they’ve played better cricket than us and they’re the holders of the Ashes again. To Meg, who is an outstanding leader, you say well done."
The draw, which saw the four points on offer split, means Australia have officially retained the multi-format, points-based Ashes with the three-game T20I leg still to play, after taking an 8-2 lead.
But Lanning was adamant her team would not be satisfied until they had won outright, given England could still draw the series if they win all three 20-over matches.
"It’s a good position to be in, we came here firstly to retain the Ashes but we still feel like we’ve got a bit to achieve on this tour," she said.
"We finished eight-all in the Ashes series in Australia in 2017 and we don’t want to feel like that again.
"We know England will come back pretty hard and they’re a good T20 side so it’s not going to be easy."
The T20I leg of the women’s Ashes will begin in Chelmsford on Friday, ahead of matches in Hove and Bristol.
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, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham
England Test squad: Heather Knight (c), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Sophie Ecclestone, Georgia Elwiss, Kirstie Gordon, Amy Jones, Laura Marsh, Nat Sciver, Anya Shrubsole (vc), Lauren Winfield, Sarah Taylor
Australia lead England 8-2
First ODI: Australia won by two wickets
Second ODI: Australia won by four wickets
Third ODI: Australia won by 194 runs
July 18-21: Match Drawn
July 26: First T20, County Ground, Chelmsford
July 28: Second T20, The County Ground, Hove