Amy Jones staying hopeful as defeat leaves Ashes hopes hanging by a thread

Amy Jones is relishing five more nip-and-tuck contests against Australia despite England’s hopes of regaining the Women’s Ashes taking another hit after defeat in the first T20.

England went toe-to-toe with their arch rivals in the lone Test before losing by 89 runs, while Australia only sealed a nervy four-wicket win off the penultimate delivery in the first of three T20s.

But Australia have established a 6-0 lead on points, which means – barring weather interventions – England must win the two remaining T20s and three ODIs to prevail in the multi-format series.

Georgia Wareham, right, and Beth Mooney got Australia over the line in the T20 in Birmingham (Nick Potts/PA)
Georgia Wareham, right, and Beth Mooney got Australia over the line in the T20 in Birmingham (Nick Potts/PA)

Doing so against the T20 and ODI world champions is a big ask but Jones feels the gap between the two sides is growing ever narrower after a past few years in which Australia have swept all before them.

“With a side like Australia there’s going to be lots of close games,” Jones said after playing in front of a 19,527 crowd at Edgbaston, a record English audience for a women’s match outside of a World Cup.

“Every game we need to win but every game you play for England feels like you need to win anyway, it’s not so different. I think we’re in for five really close games. Hopefully we win the next one and it keeps going.

“The gap feels like it’s closing. They’ve earned the right to have all those compliments and they have been formidable over the last few years.

“We’ve felt like underdogs the whole way through but after the Test and this T20, the confidence is growing and it feels to us like the gap is closing. That’s a really exciting feeling amongst us.”

Sophia Dunkley registered 56 off 49 balls but after England lurched from 106 for three to 118 for seven, Jones sparkled with 40 not out off 21 deliveries including two sixes and four fours.

Jones’ contribution lifted England to 153 for seven, which felt like a competitive total at halfway, although Australia, led by opening batter Beth Mooney, seemed to be cruising for much of the chase.

But England battled back as their opponents stumbled from 130 for two to 140 for five, only for Mooney’s unbeaten 61 from 47 balls to leave just a single required from the last five deliveries.

There was still a twist in the tale as Sophie Ecclestone bowled two dots before Annabel Sutherland was dismissed following a wild heave, but Georgia Wareham’s nervy cut and run got them over the line.

“It’s a bit harder to take being so close but there’s definitely positives,” Jones said.

England have a mountain to climb to win back the Women's Ashes (Nick Potts/PA)
England have a mountain to climb to win back the Women’s Ashes (Nick Potts/PA)

“The difference was Beth Mooney. Having someone bat the whole innings was crucial, especially in a chase. She stayed really calm, she’s a really experienced run-scorer and she proved it again here.”

Jess Jonassen took the prize wicket of Nat Sciver-Brunt then dismissed the debuting Danielle Gibson and Ecclestone off successive balls, while she was carded as the next batter to come in after Wareham.

The spin bowling all-rounder was relieved she did not have to make her way out to the middle in what turned out to be a gripping climax.

“Myself along with a few others were a little bit nervous,” Jonassen said. “It got quite tight there at the end.

“But it was an incredible spectacle – it’s followed on from what the Test brought everyone and that’s pure entertainment.

“We’re pleased to get over the line and get another two points but it was very, very close.”