ammy Beaumont’s superb maiden Test century led England’s fight back with the bat, after Annabel Sutherland’s earlier hundred had put Australia in pole position.
It was a day of runs at Trent Bridge, as just five wickets fell across 95 overs where the bowlers were looking to the skies in the hope of finding the assistance that they weren’t getting from the pitch. Beaumont, in particular, was phenomenal, bringing up her hundred off 152 balls and guiding England to the close on 218 for two, in reply to Australia’s 473.
Heather Knight had been clear in her pre-match instructions that the style of cricket England would be playing with the bat would be “closer to white-ball cricket”. It was a statement of intent that England followed through on, as they cantered along at more than four-an-over, with Nat Sciver-Brunt in particular forcing the issue and finishing the day on 41 not out off 44 balls.
Faced with amassing the best part of 500 runs in order to reach parity with Australia, England openers Beaumont and Emma Lamb drove and pulled confidently. Where Beaumont found some luck, dropped behind the wicket by Phoebe Litchfield in what would’ve been a stunning catch, Lamb was not as fortunate, edging behind to give Sutherland – fresh off her unbeaten century – a wicket in her very first over.
That brought Knight to the crease, who in the previous Ashes series scored a phenomenal 168 not out, and along with Beaumont, the pair got to work. Beaumont was the aggressor, whilst her captain was more watchful, but between them, they were superb. Beaumont’s pulls were crisp, Knight’s technique solid, and slowly but surely, Australia’s daunting first-innings total began to look that less bit intimidating.
Beaumont would reach her fifty in 75 balls, Knight in 85, with the pair only separated after Knight edged the offspin of Ashleigh Gardner behind for 59.
Far from that wicket being the opening Australia needed, it turned out to be the catalyst for England to find that next gear, as Sciver-Brunt bullied the spin of Alana King and Gardner, at one stage scoring 22 runs from just nine deliveries as the duo brought up their fifty partnership at a rate of almost six-an-over.
The bowlers losing their lengths were all the invitation that Beaumont needed to complete her maiden Test century in the penultimate over of the day, an innings that followed up her superb double-hundred in the warm-ups last week. She had her slices of luck. Had Australia reviewed a catch at short-leg that had bounced off Beaumont’s foot she would’ve been out on 61 and similarly a tough chance flew through the slips when she was on 88. Nevertheless, there can’t be many, if any, players in better form than her at the moment.
At no point in this match have England been ahead, and yet they remain in the contest at the end of day two having shown character throughout to keep fighting back against an Aussie team stacked to the gills with world class talent.
That strength in depth was illustrated perfectly by Sutherland’s earlier century. It would be easy to look at the card and see Sutherland, a number eight, scoring a hundred as an aberration on England’s part, but Sutherland is an out-and-out all-rounder. Last week, she scored a century against England ‘A’ whilst opening the batting for the full-strength Australian team. She is a serious player, in serious form.
Australia, who started the day on 328 for seven, started the day by piling on the runs and misery for England, as any hope the home team had of bundling the tail out quickly disappeared into an Australian runs shaped fog.
It wasn’t until halfway through the afternoon session, some 145 runs later, that England would finally bowl Australia out for 473. Sophie Ecclestone, by far the pick of the bowlers, claiming a deserved maiden five-wicket haul from a mammoth 46.2 overs.
“If you’re England,” Ellyse Perry said yesterday, “the more overs Sophie bowls, the better.”
It was a mantra that England stuck to, as after a 28-over spell on day one, Ecclestone came on early on day two and sent down a further fifteen, picking up the wickets of Kim Garth and Brown to wrap up the innings.
England are still down, but are by no means out. With Beaumont well set and Sciver-Brunt adding further tempo to the innings, the hosts are well placed to bat the entirety of tomorrow and flip the pressure back onto their visitors. In order to do so, they’ll need at least two of their premier batters to score heavily. And luckily, they have two of them at the crease right now.