119th over: Australia 287-6 (Perry 124, McGrath 9)
They have taken their time between overs there, so many they want to make this just the one. McGrath helps if that is the plan, whipping Marsh away behind square for her second boundary. No risks there – very good shot. They have a short leg and slip in play or the final balls. Oh, I was wrong. They will get another in, as McGrath dead bats the rest of the over.
118th over: Australia 283-6 (Perry 124, McGrath 5)
Better from McGrath, taking one through midwicket early in the new Elwiss over. Perry happy enough to see out the rest. Five minutes to the shorter tea break (if new to pink-ball cricket, the breaks are reversed) she has done more than enough to go in unbeaten. But what will England try with probably two overs until the interval? “Make big plays,” as Josh said to Donna in the West Wing episode I watched last night after work (livin’ la vida loca, me). That’s what Knight needs to do as captain now.
117th over: Australia 282-6 (Perry 124, McGrath 4)
Perry realises that there is little point hanging around to slowly start another stand, using her feet to meet Marsh around wicket, completing yet another beautiful cover drive to the rope. And that is the lead for Australia! They have hit the front before lunch after trailing by 103 when play resumed. Cop that.
“At close of play yesterday I high hopes,” writes Phil Withall. “No that’s not right. I had hope, nope still not right. I almost believed England would be capable of making a good game of this test. This session has extinguished my dreams. And now that wicket will make it almost start again.”
Dare to dream, Phil. It is what this is all about, no?
116th over: Australia 278-6 (Perry 120, McGrath 4)
Dropped! Oh that’s a shocking drop by the captain Heather Knight at short cover. First ball of McGrath’s innings. A wicket there would have done wonders for the visitors, but it isn’t to be. Elwiss’ first ball of the day as well. Instead, a full toss follows to allow McGrath to get off the mark with the easiest of clips through midwicket. The last ball of the over is left very close to the off-stump. Eventful moments. Ten minutes to lunch.
115th over: Australia 274-6 (Perry 120, McGrath 0)
The loss of Perry’s partner doesn’t cause her to lose stride, sweeping expertly to keep Australia moving towards a first innings lead. Quite the highlight reel she is pulling together here, some glorious shot this afternoon. Tahlia McGrath is the new batsman, the South Australian all-rounder on her Test debut.
It doesn’t matter! England get Healy a couple of balls later, trying to smash Marsh over the top but failing to clear Shrubsole who tooks a good catch at mid-off running back and to her right. It has taken the better part of two hours, but they have finally got the breakthrough. The end of a wonderful 100 run stand.
114th over: Australia 269-5 (Perry 115, Healy 45)
Oh that is wonnnnnderful timing from Perry. Rocking back to Sciver, she carves behind point just as she did in the first over of the day. Depth of the crease, using the pace. Superb batting. That’s the 100 partnership from 195 balls. Another out to the cover sweeper gives Healy one to see out. Big shout for LBW but it is turned down! Oh, it’s out too! No DRS, so no review available to Sciver and Knight. “He must have thought it was angling down the legside,” Charles Dagnall assumes on the radio. “How dearly England would have liked to have seen Umpire Joshua raise his finger there.” Not wrong.
113rd over: Australia 264-5 (Perry 110, Healy 45)
Marsh goes around the wicket this time. May as well. No choice but to mix it up. To that end, can’t be far away from Knight giving herself another go here. Took a 5-for in her first match as captain in 2016. Healy, nearing her half-century, is seeing them beautifully. No risks here though, no runs either to Marsh’s credit.
112nd over: Australia 264-5 (Perry 110, Healy 45)
One to Perry to midwicket, then another for Healy to mid-on. The latter is nearly stopped by the diving Wilson, but they rotate the strike in time. A couple more to Perry in that square leg region to end the over. Batting is getting easier by the minute for the Australians. They’re cashing in.
111th over: Australia 260-5 (Perry 108, Healy 43)
Marsh has another go at breaking up this stand. Perry defends until the penultimate ball, where she rocks back and pushes past the stumps for one. Full toss to end the over and Healy doesn’t miss out, clobbering all the way onto the hill for six! Her second big one of the session. That’s a dreadful way to end the over, and more or less sums up England’s morning. She hasn’t done a lot wrong herself, but doesn’t excuse the free hit she’s given Healy there.
110th over: Australia 253-5 (Perry 107, Healy 37)
Sciver to the century-maker Perry. That has a nice ring to it. To think she was a number nine four years ago. She gets off strike early in the over past square leg. Healy blocks out the rest. “These two have played every bowler well,” says Isa Guha on TMS. “No one has had too much of an influence.”
109th over: Australia 252-5 (Perry 106, Healy 37)
Healy carves Marsh through the covers off the back foot and it crawls and crawls… all the way to the rope. The TV ump consulted to make sure that is the case. Australia’s 250 up all of a sudden, the hosts only trailing by 28 runs. They’ve added 75 since the resumption 84 minues ago today.
108th over: Australia 248-5 (Perry 106, Healy 33)
For World Cup and Ashes winner Isa Guha offers a timely reminder on the radio: if England lose this Test, the Ashes are over. If it turns out that way, they will be able to pinpoint this session. It has been a shocker for them. But the beauty of their 280 runs on the board is that they are only a couple of wickets from being quickly back in it. But where does it come from? Not from Nat Sciver in this over, who concedes a single to each of the set players through the legside.
107th over: Australia 246-5 (Perry 105, Healy 32)
Perry grabs a single to begin the over, but Marsh is on the mark to Healy for the rest. David Warner talks about positive defence, and that is what Healy is all about here, striding forward each time with purpose. Has a habit of giving it away once she is well set. That’s her next challenge: making this great start really count.
106th over: Australia 245-5 (Perry 104, Healy 32)
A lot has been made of this England team’s bouncebackability, but they have to show it here. Nat Sciver has a chance with the ball for the first time today after Shrubsole was hit out of the attack. But Healy welcomes her by lashing a half-volley to the rope at cover! She moves into the 30s. Then a couple more around the corner to keep that board motoring. Six from it, which makes 47 from the last ten overs.
Here is her big one from before the drinks break.
105th over: Australia 239-5 (Perry 104, Healy 26)
To hammer home the point, Perry takes a second boundary down to the fine leg region to narrow the scoreboard gap yet further. At this rate, Australia will have a handy lead by the the tea break. All the pressure back on England.
Secured from the first ball after drinks with a deft glance off Laura Marsh. What a magnificent moment for the superstar allrounder. She meets it with a huge leap in the air. So many times beyond 50, but at last she has done it. An innings of 225 balls, including 17 boundaries. Vital in the context of the game as well, navigating her side into a very handy position from a spot of vulnerability last night.
104th over: Australia 231-5 (Perry 96, Healy 26)
Shrubsole gets another, the last before drinks. But much for the convention of defending it out for a glass of cordial, Healy instead going large! That’s a wonderfully timed clip over midwicket, clearing the rope. The first six of the game! She goes again, but with a glorious stroke to the same part of the ground, this time along the carpet. Outstanding batting. It punctuates a brilliant hour for Australia, who resumed at 177-5 and have added 56 runs without loss. England need to regroup, and fast.
103rd over: Australia 221-5 (Perry 96, Healy 16)
Laura Marsh replaces Ecclestone from the City End. Good call. Marsh has a five-wicket bag on this field, was a vital cog in England’s World Cup win here in 2009 and outstanding yesterday. Has the experience to ensure Perry won’t be getting these four runs for free. A short midwicket in play now as well, but Perry is defending a fraction squarer than that throughout the set, forced to go forward then back. A maiden it is. Exhale.
102nd over: Australia 221-5 (Perry 96, Healy 16)
Shrubsole to Healy. Five-four field, no real catchers besides Knight at shortish extra cover. But Healy finds a gap in the ring for a couple, albeit through for a brief moment causing the bowler to let out a sigh. Perry back on strike for the next over, one boundary away from three figures.
101st over: Australia 219-5 (Perry 96, Healy 14)
Thanks for those who picked up that I called it the England 200 rather than Australia before. Chalk it up to me carrying both passports. Right. Ecclestone again. Healy hoicks! Doesn’t get all of this, but doesn’t go to hand. First false stroke of the day. Perry’s turn, and she is on the advance and picking the gap through midwicket for four! Lovely timing. That brings her to 96. Also brings up the 50 stand between these two. Vital runs to say the least. England in a bit of strife now.
100th over: Australia 214-5 (Perry 92, Healy 13)
Back to back boundaries! Shrubsole is back into the attack and Perry immediately gets her away twice behind point. The first is from the outside of the bat and not in complete control, but the second is top shelf, using the pace of the pace. Into the 90s she goes. In response, Knight shuffles Winfield from first slip to, oh, fly slip I guess you’d call that? Shrubsole knows how to bounce back in this situation. Speaking to her recently (for another publication, so I won’t be rude and link) she explained to me how she calmed down after being whacked for two boundaries on the spin in the 43rd over of the World Cup final. Half an hour later, she had taken 5-for-13 in the spell and won England the trophy. What she’d give for something like that right now.
99th over: Australia 206-5 (Perry 84, Healy 13)
Ecclestone again begins with a fully, her third of this spell. The pressure is piling up on the 18 year old after really impressing yesterday. Her Dad also told me yesterday that she hasn’t any concern bowling long spells, conditioned to it from playing men’s grade cricket. Knight makes a move, pushing herself into catching cover. It heads in her general direction, but no runs beyond the single to start.
98th over: Australia 205-5 (Perry 83, Healy 13)
Short, pulled, four! Healy smacks Brunt to the rope with venom. That brings up Australia 200 as well. The deficit has narrowed from 103 to 77 so far this morning, this pair doing precisely what the home side required: seeing off the second new ball. Healy sweets another single in front of point. Then Perry gets one herself off the hip the midwicket to keep the strike. Six from the over. That’ll do. That deficit now 75.
97th over: Australia 199-5 (Perry 82, Healy 9)
Our first single of the day! Healy taking one from Ecclestone. The only run from the over, behind square off the pads.
96th over: Australia 198-5 (Perry 82, Healy 7)
Up to the stumps comes Sarah Taylor to Brunt’s fourth over of the spell. This is always exciting. She isn’t required though, Perry kept honest with six deliveries that need the bat to be used. A couple of slower balls in the mix there too, suggesting that England have officially reverted to Plan B.
“Good morning from Ireland,” emails Dave Kinsella. Morning to you. “I’ve got to say, I was very impressed by the Aussie coach’s honest summary of the last session yesterday. In which he admitted his team were counting down the bal;s to stumps and admiring the English bowling efforts. This is simply Cricket.”
He also said he was pretty disappointed at the scoring rates of both teams. My sense is that both he and Mark Robinson are going to really load on the pitch after this match, regardless of the result.
Oh by the way, England have finished it off in Adelaide. Jimmy took the last couple, finishing with 3-for-12. Always a good night out on the gallop in Adelaide. Wonder if they’ll sneak out for a little look? Hope so.
95th over: Australia 198-5 (Perry 82, Healy 7)
Right. Ecclestone is back in her happy place over the last couple of overs, mixing up her speeds to Alyssa Healy, but on lengths that require defence. Really good. But there’s still plenty of chat about why she was opening the bowling today in the first place. “Unbelievable” says Mel Jones on TMS of the decision.
94th over: Australia 198-5 (Perry 82, Healy 7)
11th of November, so both sides are also wearing poppies to mark 99 years since the end of the First World War. But don’t think for a moment that you’re going to get a war analogy from me in the next sentence about the game in front of us. No. On the field, it’s Brunt versus Perry. She’s keeping it full, seeking swing, but not a lot is coming. One jags one back at the well-set batsman, but she has enough time to get down on it. Good cricket. Maiden.
Meanwhile in Adelaide, the CAXI are in strife. I find pronouncing it “Kacksi” makes them feel more like a cricket team. Anyway, England’s seamers are running amok. Those that are still fit, that is. Sidebar on this: what has Liam Plunkett gotta do to win a flight to Australia? Blimey.
93rd over: Australia 198-5 (Perry 82, Healy 7)
Couple to Healy off the first ball of Ecclestone’s new over, turned around the corner and beating Laura Marsh. It’s a misfield, on reflection. Oh, there it is! Ecclestone has a superb arm ball and it neeearly gets through Healy, just as it did in her first ODI of the series in Coffs Harbour the week before last. Very close to off stump. This is a good over, bringing Healy forward with some flight, then again pushing her back with that quicker one that doesn’t turn as much. Nice contest. Pats on the back all round.
92nd over: Australia 196-5 (Perry 82, Healy 5)
Charles Dagnall is flummoxed by the tactics of starting with spin today from the City End when the ball is still so new. “If it is going to swing (the pink ball) it does in the first ten to 12 overs of the innings. Then you consider that Katherine Brunt got a late wicket last night, and would be bowling into a slight breeze assisting that little bit of away swing. I don’t know.” Really odd. One for Heather Knight at stumps.
It is Brunt now for her second over after replacing Shrubsole, appealing ambitiously as a leg bye is taken. They rotate, so it’s Perry to face up from this end for the first time today. She’s forced to defend with Brunt right on the money.
91st over: Australia 195-5 (Perry 82, Healy 5)
Ecclestone gets another go. And she finds her length at last, keeping Perry forward throughout the over. She nearly beats Knight when using her feet and making wonderful contact, but at cover the England skipper makes the save with one hand. Watching the replay, she’s saved four there. Back to back maidens.
90th over: Australia 195-5 (Perry 82, Healy 5)
Brunt is back, belatedly for mine, replacing Shrubsole from our end of the North Sydney Oval. Australian coach Matthew Mott freely admitted that they were counting down the balls to stumps last night, Brunt beating the bat time and again. But it hasn’t moved much so far this afternoon. We’ll see. Keeps Healy down the business end throughout with a useful maiden. The last ball kept a low a bit, which could be a bit of a bother later on.
On the radio, Jim Maxwell is critical of the track, believing more grass should have been left on to generate more bounce. Hard to dispute that. He has also been passed a note by master statistician Ric Finlay pitching up a Women’s Sheffield Shield, with games played over three days. Yes, please. On pitch chat, Lottie continues: “The pitch we had in Perth for the 2014 was the best we ever played on. It was quick and bounced.”
89th over: Australia 195-5 (Perry 82, Healy 5)
Ecclestone better. Pushes one through to Perry who misses on the back foot, then drawing her forward. Oh, spoke to soon, Perry latching onto the final ball of the over, carving behind point for the fourth boundary in four overs this morning! That’s a fantastic shot, placement perfect and footwork to match. She’s into the 80s.
88th over: Australia 191-5 (Perry 78, Healy 5)
Shrubsole let’s the Australians get a couple off the pad when spraying. “Pad is good as the bat in that respect,” says Jim Maxwell on the wireless. But she’s right back on the mark for the rest of the set. Perry moved to her highest score in Test cricket with those boundaries in the previous over, by the way. Australia now 89 behind.
87th over: Australia 189-5 (Perry 78, Healy 5)
Sophie Ecclestone to get first use from the city end. Quite surprised by that, Brunt was absolutely all over these two before stumps last night. New rock only six overs old. Odd. Perry doesn’t mind the call at all, cashing in after getting a full toss first ball, smacking it down the ground for four. Perfect start to the day. 26 away from a maiden international ton. The left-armer is up appealing next ball for a catch down the legside, but it’s not much a shout from behind the wicket. Another full toss from Ecclestone later in the over – that’s a shocker. Waist high and Perry carves it through point. Real help yourself stuff there. Make that 22 away. Perfect start from Australia. More to the point, awful start for England.
86th over: Australia 181-5 (Perry 70, Healy 5)
Shoooooooooot. Healy away for the day second ball of it with a delicious straight drive, whizzing by the stumps and to the rope. “You won’t see much better than that,” says Charlotte Edwards (Lottie from now on) on the TMS call. Very solid in defence thereafter, elbow up nice and high.
England and Australia on the way out in their baggy pinks.
Returning them back to the McGrath Foundation for charity auction at a later date. Fantastic from CA putting on the day three Sydney ritual in the women’s Test as well. The HQ staffer who looks after community engagement, Adam Cassidy, is a class act. I get stuck into CA a fair bit (when they deserve it), but they do this stuff extremely well.
Righto. Perry and Healy ready to roll. Shrubsole has the ball from the Fig Tree End. PLAY!
Geoffers has been down having a look.
Sophie Ecclestone. The big winner from day two was England’s 18-year-old debutant tweaker, who earned plenty of fans. Comparisons to Daniel Vettori in the TMS radio commentary box were spot on, the left-arm ortho using her height and accuracy to great effect with two top order breakthroughts. (Should have been three, had Haynes plum, but let’s not dwell).
I had the great pleasure of spending the time watching the proud Lancastrian bowl with her parents Paul and Elaine. They weren’t sure if they could get time off work of the cash together to make it over, but as her mum told me, they wouldn’t have forgiven themselves had they decided to stay home.
Lottie Edwards presented Sophie her Test cap before the opening day but it looked like they would miss the formalities, stuck outside the gates as it was before the public were allowed in. But the ECB’s gun media boss Henry Cowen fixed that, smuggling them through just in time. Fair to say they have barely taken a breath since, soaking in the action from the Bob Stand.
Here’s a nice shot I took of them with the Alvaney Cricket Club flag they packed away for the occasion. It comes with another nice story of their day, willing her a wicket the old fashioned way: by taking a lap. When a punter asked why they were going wild when she trapped Alex Blackwell, Elaine said simply: “That’s my daughter!”
Lovely stuff, lovely people and they’ve produced one hell of a bowler.
Another corker of a day here in Sydney, the hottest of the three so far, as we ready ourselves for the second half of this four-day Test. Sure, the game hasn’t flown so far, but don’t let confuse the fact that this is a very good contest between two quality teams.
Not least the last 20 minutes last night, where Katherine Brunt had them hooping around with the second new pink ball. Indeed, she beat the bat six times in 18 deliveries according to CricViz, picking up local skipper Rachael Haynes along the way.
It makes the new partnership vital. Ellyse Perry is on 70 and batting like a dream, surely a lock to finally record her maiden international ton. She has Alyssa Healy with her, the in-form Australian across the ODIs. But still 107 behind on the first innings, and scheduled to bat fourth on a deck that will turn a fair bit come tomorrow afternoon, they can’t afford an early stumble.
By contrast, England will know that if they can’t strike again while the ball is relatively new, they will be the side taking a deficit into the second innings of this match. It makes the first half hour crucial to the trajectory of the day ahead of us.
That’s the state of play with half an hour until we resume. The players in front of me are well into their warm ups, the ground drenched in pink for Jane McGrath Day. It’s a lovely sight, and hopefully the Sydney crowd will again turn out in strong numbers.
As always, this will be a lot more fun if we talk to each other throughout the afternoon, and then Vish when they wake up in England who will take the OBO baton from me. Hit me up in the usual ways, on the email or the tweet.
Adam will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s a quick look at the state of play in this series: