Australia wicket-keeper Alyssa Healy and England captain Heather Knight have predicted that the ongoing Women's Ashes will be a closely fought series after Australia's two-wicket victory in the first of the three-match ODI series in Leicester on Tuesday, 2 July.
At 105/4 in the 26th over, with Healy well set, Australia seemed on course to ease past England's score of 177. However, the opener's dismissal saw hosts England seizing the opportunity to cause some panic in the Australian camp, before the lower order held their nerves to complete a thrilling victory. Healy, who scored a fluent 71-ball 66, admitted that the team could've done better, adding that more close finishes can be expected in the series.
The first two points in the multi-format Women's Ashes have gone to Australia!— ICC (@ICC) July 2, 2019
Report from a thrilling opening ODI 👇 https://t.co/orKt1KRbxz
"We didn’t quite do that (dominate) today, but to get the two points, we’ll take it," Healy said. "I think it’s going to be one of the closest Ashes series I’ve been a part of. There’s been a little bit written about us being on top, but I think it’s actually going to be a really tight series and hopefully we can get a leg-up. But we’ll have to wait and see."
Healy had earlier made a bold, tongue-in-cheek statement that Australia will win each of the seven games of the multi format series. However, the Victorian cricketer admitted that England are tough opponents with their consistent brand of cricket.
There’s been a little bit written about us being on top, but I think it’s actually going to be a really tight series and hopefully we can get a leg-up.
"I was wondering when that (question) was going to come at me," a laughing Healy said. "We started alright. I said this morning I was fairly realistic that (winning every game) was going to be incredibly difficult to do. The English have been playing consistent cricket and we were going to have to come out and put our stamp on the series early on."
England skipper Heather Knight lauded the efforts of Sophie Ecclestone, who kept England in the hunt, finishing with figures of 3/34. "Her talent is amazing, she’s brilliant to have up your sleeve as a captain,” Knight said. “She can take a wicket out of nowhere, she’s got a lovely action … and she keeps getting better."
What a start to the Women's Ashes! 😅— ICC (@ICC) July 2, 2019
An all-round Sophie Ecclestone gives it her best shot, but Delissa Kimmince holds her nerve to take Australia to a thrilling two-wicket win! #ENGvAUS SCORECARD ⬇️ https://t.co/JzhiAQZr04 pic.twitter.com/h8BXvqmchf
Knight resonated with Healy's thoughts, saying that both teams are evenly matched and could produce some exciting cricket in days to come.
"I think we’re a very good side and (Australia are) a very good side as well. We are evenly matched, and I think it was really important that today we put in a really good fight in and won some little battles with a long series ahead. I think we did that, I think it be a great series between the best two teams in the world."