England beat Australia in Ashes opener.
England got the 2015 Ashes series off to a flying start when they beat Australia by four wickets with 26 balls remaining in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd of 3.350 at the County Ground in Taunton.
England’s impressive bowling supported by a great fielding performance, that resulted in four run outs, limited the Australians to 239 for eight.
When the hosts replied, a fifth wicket partnership of 122 between Natalie Sciver and Lydia Greenwood sealed an impressive victory.
After Australia opted to bat first England’s Katharine Brunt struck twice in quick succession. Firstly she had Elyse Villani caught by Charlotte Edwards for 18 with the score on 24 and one run later in her next over she bowled Jess Jonassen.
Kate Cross joined the attack for the 12th over, replacing Anya Shrubsole at the Somerset Pavilion End and with her third ball claimed Australian captain Meg Lanning LBW with the total on 46.
Ellyse Perry and Alex Blackwell then took the total onto 156 when Blackwell (58) was run out by a direct throw from Heather Knight.
Anorther superb piece of fielding by Greenway saw the end of Jess Cameron when she was run out for 23 with the total on 187. Perry had moved onto 78 when she was caught by Sciver off Knight with the total on 207.
The England fielders gave their bowlers brilliant support and the next two wickets to fall were both run outs. With the total on 213 Erin Osborne was run out by Edwards for one and in the next over Brunt ran out Sarah Coyte for seven which made the score 221 for seven.
Off the last ball of the penultimate over Brunt trapped Kristen Beams LBW for one as Australia ended on 238 for nine from their 50 overs. Brunt was the pick of the England bowlers taking three for 48 from her 10 overs two of which were maidens.
England openers Edwards and Knight added 20 for the first wicket before the captain was bowled by Perry for 15 in the seventh over.
Knight had moved onto 12 when she was caught by Lanning off Coyte for 12 with the total on 41 in the 12th over. Erin Osborne then claimed two wickets in quick succession as Amy Jones was caught by Jonassen for 15 with the total on 79 and in her next over she had Sarah Taylor caught by wicket-keeper Alyssa Healy for 30.
At 80 for four after 20 overs England needed a partnership to set them back on their way and Sciver and Greenway duly obliged. During the next 10 overs the fifth wicket pair took the total onto 124 without further loss.
Both batters played with increasing confidence, much to the delight of the crowd who cheered every run that was scored. Sciver was first to her half century when she hit a single off Coyte from the last ball of the 36th over, her runs coming off 58 balls with seven 4′s. Greenway went to her 50 in the 41st over off 68 balls with six 4′s but shortly after seeing up the 200 she was caught by Blackwell off Kristen Beams for 53.
The crucial fifth wicket partnership added 122 runs off 133 balls in 78 minutes to see England to the brink of victory.
Three overs later Sciver was caught by Beams off Osborne for 66 from 75 balls with nine 4′s to leave England 217 for six. Georgia Elwiss with an unbeaten 25 and Brunt who ended not out seven then remained at the crease to see England home to victory off the second ball of the 46th over.
For Australia Osborne ended with three for 39 from her 6.4 overs.
Afterwards Sciver said: “It was great to start with a win because in previous years we haven’t been quite as good at starting as we have today, so its really nice to get a win under our belts.”
Brunt said: “We were good at chasing today and we were in control of the game from start to finish, so we were quite happy to be chasing.”
Talking about the Australian total Brunt said: “I thought that they were 50 runs short and on a deck like today you want to be posting 280, which is what we would have wanted if we had been put in. At one point Blackwell and Perry looked like they were going to set 280, so I was glad we brought it back at the end.”
Talking about the fielding performance Sciver said: “ Over the winter we have had the chance to work on our fielding a lot and four run outs was what slowed them down in the end, so it was a real team effort.”
The next match in the Ashes series takes place in Bristol on Thursday.
England Women XI: CM Edwards*, KH Brunt, KL Cross, GA Elwiss, LS Greenway, RL Grundy, AE Jones, HC Knight, NR Sciver, A Shrubsole, SJ Taylor.
Australia Women XI: EJ Villani, JL Jonassen, MM Lanning*, AJ Blackwell, EA Perry†, JE Cameron, AJ Healy, EA Osborne, SJ Coyte, KM Beams, HL Ferling
TOSS: Australia Women won the toss and elected to bat