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HomeNewsThe Ashes 2023: Australia's Ellyse Perry hits 99 but England's Sophie Ecclestone...

The Ashes 2023: Australia’s Ellyse Perry hits 99 but England’s Sophie Ecclestone hits back

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Australia 328-7 (85 overs): Perry 99, McGrath 61; Ecclestone 3-71
England: Yet to bat
Scorecard

England spinner Sophie Ecclestone’s three wickets left the one-off Test against Australia evenly poised after the first day at Trent Bridge.

After winning the toss, Australia were in control at 226-3 before losing three wickets for 12 runs in the space of 24 balls, including all-rounder Ellyse Perry for 99, as England pulled it back on the opening day of the multi-format Women’s Ashes series.

Ecclestone took two wickets in three balls, bowling captain Alyssa Healy for a duck, before debutant Lauren Filer dismissed Perry with a sharp 76mph delivery.

A seventh-wicket partnership of 77 between Ash Gardner (40) and Annabel Sutherland (39 not out) then steadied Australia’s progress as they finished on 328-7, after Gardner fell to Lauren Bell late in the day.

England seamer Kate Cross took the first wicket of the series as Phoebe Litchfield fell for 23 on Test debut, before Filer had opener Beth Mooney caught at slip for 33 for her first international wicket.

Perry, who was dropped on 10, and Tahlia McGrath added 119 for the third wicket as England’s seamers toiled on a flat pitch in the afternoon session.

Ecclestone (3-71) was the only bowler to offer captain Heather Knight control, bowling a mammoth 31 overs at an economy rate of 2.29 runs per over, while the four seamers combined went at 4.34.

The five-day Test is worth four points in the multi-format series, and is followed by three Twenty20 internationals and three one-day internationals.

Ecclestone proves her class again

Perry and McGrath’s partnership had an ominous air about it, the pair looking immovable and scoring effortlessly all around the ground as the ball and a flat pitch offered England’s seamers very little.

But when England are in a crisis, Knight turns to Ecclestone, and so often she delivers.

From nowhere, McGrath was bowled by a beautiful flighted delivery that drifted through her defence to break the shackles, and breathe life back into a flagging England side.

A short rain delay then revived England, and Ecclestone struck again in the 56th over.

Jess Jonassen was caught off the glove at short leg after a smart review by Knight, before a perfectly executed quicker ball bowled wicketkeeper Healy – standing in as captain for the absent Meg Lanning – for her third consecutive duck in Ashes Test matches.

Ecclestone executed her role perfectly for Knight, twirling away at one end while the captain rotated her tired seamers at the other, but despite the Lancashire slow left-armer’s brilliance, England must be cautious.

In the Test against India at Bristol in 2021, Ecclestone bowled 64 overs and subsequently struggled with her shoulder for the rest of the summer.

England need her fit and firing if they are compete with world champions Australia for another six Ashes matches after this Test.

More to follow.

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