Sophie Ecclestone takes maiden Test five-wicket haul but Australia firmly on top
Sophie Ecclestone claimed a maiden Test five-wicket haul but England’s understaffed bowlers toiled as Annabel Sutherland put Australia firmly on top in the multi-format Ashes series opener.
With Nat Sciver-Brunt on ice as England took precautionary measures because of the all-rounder’s jarred right knee, the rest of England’s frontline attack – led by Ecclestone – had an increased workload.
The slow left-armer sent down 46.2 overs spread across the first four-and-a-half sessions of the Test, collecting a hard-earned five for 129 as Sutherland’s 137 not out ushered Australia to a titanic 473.
Sutherland’s highest score in 33 previous internationals spread across all formats was 35 but she was dashing at Trent Bridge, capitalising on England’s aching limbs – they were kept in the field for 124.2 overs – to record the fastest Test ton by an Australian woman off only 148 balls.
She showed the enviable depth of Australia’s batting pool with the highest score by a number eight in women’s Tests and there was no keeping her out of the game as she made the breakthrough with the ball, dismissing opener Emma Lamb as England went to tea on 68 for one.
England would have been hoping to wrap up the lower order and keep Australia to under 350 on the second morning but Sciver-Brunt’s sore knee – she fielded and will be fine to bat – left the hosts a bowler light.
Sutherland, resuming on 39, took advantage with England’s seamers innocuous while she even got after the more frugal Ecclestone when the spinner was introduced after 40 minutes. Lauren Bell’s hooping inswinger bowled Alana King through the gate for 21 but it was a rare moment of relief for England.
Ireland-born Australia debutant Kim Garth proved a capable foil for the more attacking Sutherland, who went through the gears after going to a maiden international half-century, requiring only 48 more balls to bring up her second 50, doing so with a clip through mid-wicket off Lauren Filer for her 12th four.
There was an authoritative pull and a thick edge out of reach of Heather Knight in the same over off the England debutant and Sutherland continued to churn out the runs after lunch with a mighty mow over deep mid-wicket for the first six of the Test.
Either side of the maximum, Ecclestone rapped Garth on the back pad after skidding through her defences, ending a 95-run stand for the penultimate wicket which had carried Australia past 450, before taking a sharp caught and bowled off Darcie Brown for a five-for to leave Sutherland out of partners.
While Ecclestone bore the brunt of Sciver-Brunt’s absence with the ball, Kate Cross racked up 29 overs, with debutant Filer bowling 22 and Bell 20.
Sutherland’s efforts, allied to Ellyse Perry’s 99 on day one, lifted Australia to their sixth-highest Test score of all-time and left England needing a monumental effort from their batters.
Tammy Beaumont, fresh from a rollicking double century in a warm-up against Australia A last week, had a let-off on four as a diving Phoebe Litchfield could not pull off a low catch after Brown had drawn the edge.
The England opener tucked into some sumptuous drives and took advantage of a few full tosses from Australia’s bowlers to end the afternoon session on an unbeaten 41 off just 56 balls after Sutherland got Lamb to drive at a fuller delivery, with Jess Jonassen taking a low slip catch.
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