Australia has extended its lead at the top of the ICC Women’s Championship to five points after defeating England 2-1 in the third round clash, which concluded in Worcester on Monday.
Meg Lanning’s team has now extended its lead over second placed South Africa, although England has also moved up two places to fourth in the table after claiming two points following its victory in the first ODI.
The ICC Women’s Championship is a qualifying tournament for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 and is being participated by Australia, England, India, New Zealand Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies. The top four sides from the ICC Women’s Championship will obtain automatic qualification for the event proper to be staged in England, while the bottom four sides will get a final chance of qualification through the ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier in 2017.
The tournament structure sees each team will play each other in one home or away series that will include three ODIs over a two and a half year period. As such, each side is guaranteed at least 21 ODIs over the tournament period.
In the first match of the three-ODI series, England defeated Australia by four wickets. After winning the toss, the visitors elected to bat with Ellyse Perry (78) and Alex Blackwell (58) inspiring the team to 238 for 9. Swing bowler Katherine Brunt was the pick of the bowlers, claiming three for 48. In reply, England chased down the total with 26 balls to spare thanks mainly to a 122-run partnership from Natalie Sciver (66) and Lydia Greenway (53), with wicket-keeper Sarah Taylor also chipping in with a valuable 30. Erin Osborne’s off-spin reaped three wickets for 39 for the visitors.
In the second ODI, Australia got back to winning ways when skipper Lanning’s impressive 104 off 98 balls, in what was the 23-year-old’s sixth century in ODI’s, coupled with useful contributions by Perry (48) and openers Nicole Bolton (37) and Ellyse Villani (35) helped the Southern Stars reach 259 for 6. Sciver and Heather Knight both claimed two wickets apiece. In reply, England could only manage 196 all out as Megan Schutt’s pace accounted for four wickets for 47, with a brace apiece for Sarah Coyte (2 for 38) and Jess Jonassen (2 for 34) to make it a winner-takes-all affair in Worcester.
In the final game on Monday, with the original fixture washed out on Sunday, Australia continued its attacking ways and posted 241 for seven, with Lanning (85), Perry (67) and Bolton (40) the leading run-getters. Jenny Gunn claimed two for 52 for the hosts who could only manage 152 all out in reply to lose the decider by 89 runs. Greenway (45), Knight (38) and Brunt (31) were the only batters to reach double figures as Kristen Beams’ leg-spin (three for 13) finished the task after Perry (two for 16) and Coyte (two for 38) had done the early damage to help claim the series.
Speaking after Monday’s victory, Australia captain Meg Lanning said: “This ODI series was extremely important for us as it not only carried valuable points for the Women’s Ashes series but it also formed part of the ICC Women’s Championship. Every series that we play in the Championship is an integral step in our campaign towards the 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup and we’ve enjoyed some competitive matches against world-class teams over the last 12 months.
“We were probably a little bit timid in the first game. England played really well and then we were able to come back and enjoy our cricket, back ourselves, and the more aggressive we are the better we play. So that was a common theme we had going (for us). It was about getting out there, backing the preparation we had done over the winter and putting on a show for the crowd and on TV as well. We are really proud to be leading the ICC Women’s Championship and we believe that the introduction of the ICC Women’s Championship has been a very positive step for women’s cricket.”
England women’s captain, Charlotte Edwards, said: “It is always disappointing to lose, but there are a lot of positives that we can take away from these opening three matches of this Women’s Ashes series. We started brilliantly on Tuesday in Taunton, demonstrating the intensity, standard and brand of cricket that we want to play. Unfortunately we have been a bit inconsistent and ultimately outplayed during the last two matches and Australia have shown why they are the current world champions in this format.
“We are also in a comfortable place in the ICC Women’s Championship table after this block of matches. With four more rounds to play in this qualifying tournament next year, I am confident that we are well positioned at this stage.”
In the latest ICC Women’s ODI Player Rankings for Batters, Australia skipper Lanning has claimed the number one position for the first time in her career. In doing so the 23-year-old has moved up two places and overtaken England duo Sarah Taylor and her opposite number Charlotte Edwards, who each drop a place to second and third, respectively. There was further good news for Australia’s Perry who passed the 1,000 runs landmark during the series and has risen five places to a career high eighth. She now lies on 640 points, three points behind India’s Harmanpreet Kaur.
Other upward movers in the series for Australia include Nicole Bolton (up one to a career high 24th), Alyssa Healy (up 22 to a career high 71st) and Elyse Villani (up 32 to a career high 73rd). For England, there were gains for Lydia Greenway (up three to 14th), Heather Knight (up one to 19th), Natalie Sciver (up one to 29th) and Katherine Brunt who has vaulted 13 places to a career high 49th.
In the ICC Women’s ODI Player Rankings for Bowlers, Sydney born Perry has moved up six places to fifth, while there were career high gains for Australia quartet Sarah Coyte (up six places to 14th), Jess Jonassen (up three to 20th), Megan Schutt (up 12 to 30th) and Kristen Beams (up six to 51st). Several England players also made positive progressions in the bowling rankings - Anya Shrubsole (up five to a career high 21st), Kate Cross (up one to 38th) and Heather Knight (up five to a career high 50th).
Stafanie Taylor continues to lead the all-rounders’ tables, but Perry has risen one place to second and, in doing so, has reduced West Indian Taylor’s lead to 44 points.
In the next series of matches in Round Four, West Indies will host Pakistan in St. Lucia starting on 18 October.