• England wins the latest chapter of cricket’s oldest rivalry as it beats Australia by three runs in an ICC Women’s World Cup thriller in Bristol
• Almost 5,000 fans packed The County Ground in Bristol and England’s Alex Hartley insisted their support was key: “The fans really made a difference towards the end, they really were our 12th player.”
• Despite the defeat, Ellyse Perry admitted there is nothing like playing against England: “We love that challenge. We didn’t get up in this game but overall it’s a great experience.”
There is always something special about a cricket match between England and Australia, and nothing exemplifies that rivalry like a nail-biting finale in the ICC Women’s World Cup.
That was exactly what played out at The County Ground in Bristol on Sunday, with England winning by just three runs – its first win against its cricket rival in this competition since 1993.
Not only that, but the victory secured a fourth consecutive triumph in the competition for Heather Knight’s side, also opening up the race for the semi-finals with two matches left to play.
But for England’s Alex Hartley, the game went to the extra level. This was her first experience of what it is like to play Australia, showing no signs of nerves as she took two wickets – including the prized scalp of Meg Lanning, when the Aussie captain was hitting her stride.
“I’ve never played Australia before and it was an absolutely fantastic opportunity, to have a little bowl and then to bowl well,” said Hartley.
“It’s just another group game but playing Australia has got that special feeling and makes you nervous before you go out to the field.
“It’s great to get that win, the fans really made a difference towards the end, really were our 12th player and in a game of fine margins that can make all the difference.
“Hopefully if we can get them behind us more throughout then we’ll be able to get that carrying forward.”
Almost 5,000 fans packed into the The County Ground, and were rewarded with more than 500 runs and a thrilling contest that went to the very last ball of the match, as England edged home by three runs.
With an exhilarating victory comes heartbreaking defeat, a force felt by Australia – who missed out on the chance to secure its ICC WWC semi-final spot.
But with this just its first defeat of the tournament, Ellyse Perry is confident it can harness the feeling of the day to their advantage in the near future.
“The support is incredible, and we pretty much had a packed stadium, they’re doing a great thing for cricket and we love coming over here and playing,” said the batter, who top-scored with 70.
“We love that challenge, we didn’t get up in this game and overall it’s a great experience and we hope to play them again at another point in the tournament.
“It adds a great atmosphere, the standard of skill between both teams was incredible with bat, ball and in the field, and I think a lot of the time the crowd really is a part of that lifting the players.
“Everyone wants to be involved in this type of game.”