25th over: Australia 140-1 (Lanning 60, Perry 2) Things will settle down a bit with Perry at the crease, I think. Healy’s specialty the last couple of years has been breezing along at a run a ball even when no one else can get close. She attacks judiciously and is good enough to get away with it more often than not, and in doing so she rattles fielding sides and creates more opportunities for herself, whether with bad bowling or opening space in the field. Three singles from the Sciver over.
24th over: Australia 138-1 (Lanning 58, Perry 1) Not quite sure about the strategy of bowling an off-spinner without much turn around the wicket against a right-hander. Marsh leaves one outside leg stumps and Lanning sweeps it comfortably for four backward of square.
23rd over: Australia 131-1 (Lanning 52, Perry 0) Ten runs and a wicket from the over. You get rid of Healy, and Perry walks out. Would you like to know how many century stands she has with Meg Lanning? No? I’ll keep it to myself.
WICKET! Healy c Wyatt b Sciver 68 (Australia 130-2)
Somehow, Sciver finds a way to stem the bleeding. She’s clobbered for four behind square by Healy, then bowls five wides down the leg side. But when she dishes up a rank half-tracker for Healy to put anywhere she likes, the shot finds Wyatt in the deep at midwicket, who takes a good catch. England collapse on the floor heaving sighs of relief.
Half century! Meg Lanning 50 from 50 balls
22nd over: Australia 121-1 (Healy 64, Lanning 51) Imposing when two players out there rack up fifty at a run a ball each. Lanning taps Marsh into the covers and darts the quick run. Healy returns the favour, then again. Healy mows to deep midwicket on the bounce but this time Jones can get around to field. A hundred partnership.
21st over: Australia 117-1 (Healy 62, Lanning 49) Ecclestone is the one they’re being careful against. Just the three singles, and she’s bowled six overs for 27.
20th over: Australia 114-1 (Healy 61, Lanning 47) Tee-off time is back. Lanning skips to Marsh again and drives over cover. It wasn’t completely clean, there was that kind of clunky tinny sound off the bat that suggests it was the outside half of the bat, but the field is up. A few singles follow, then Healy gets a short one and absolutely crushes it through square leg along the ground. Flat and bouncing into the boards.
19th over: Australia 102-1 (Healy 55, Lanning 41) Ecclestone bowling tight on the stumps to Healy in this over, trying not to give any room. Just a single from the fifth ball. There’s nearly a late Lanning edge for runs again but this time it’s saved.
For anyone following the men’s Ashes as well, here’s an update on Jimmy Anderson’s recent injury issue.
18th over: Australia 101-1 (Healy 54, Lanning 41) Spin from both ends now, with Laura Marsh’s off-breaks to partner Ecclestone’s left-arm orthos. Thing start well for her with three singles and a couple of dots, but Lanning closes the over by slashing a wide flighted ball off the top edge of her angled bat and fine of short third for four. The ton is up.
17th over: Australia 94-1 (Healy 52, Lanning 36) Sophie Ecclestone does the tough job of keeping Healy quiet for an over, as the Australians ease back into things after the break. Two singles. Such a good early run rate that there’s no need to rush.
16th over: Australia 92-1 (Healy 51, Lanning 35) Shot for shot now! Lanning is suddenly starting to look herself again. Width from Sciver so Lanning drives it square to perfection, the full Lara flourish of the bat through the line of the ball and then the follow-through. As so often happens Sciver goes a bit shorter and straighter, so Lanning pounds the pull shot behind square and once again beats a despairing dive. They’ve been able to find the fence relentlessly this morning. The last four overs have gone for 9, 10, 11 and 9. That’s drinks.
Half century! Alyssa Healy 51 from 44 balls
15th over: Australia 83-1 (Healy 51, Lanning 26) This is looking ominous, after England asked Australia to bat. Lanning punches Ecclestone through point for four, then skips down to drive a single to deep cover. Jones coming around finally gets one that gives her a better chance of saving it, and does so. But with one ball to come Ecclestone drags down badly, and Healy punishes it with a pull shot that splits the leg-side sweepers square of the wicket. That’s her fifty.
14th over: Australia 73-1 (Healy 46, Lanning 21) “She’s super straight, super straight, yeah, she’s super straight.” Healy drives yet another dead straight boundary, this time from Sciver. Music by Regurgitator, Brisbane’s finest.
Not to be outdone, Lanning stands up to drive on the up, into the cover gap, and with enough power to beat the outfielder for four. What a shot. In terms of technical difficulty, that’s the best we’ve seen today.
13th over: Australia 62-1 (Healy 41, Lanning 16) Now it’s Lanning’s turn. She has the left-arm spinner bowling around the wicket with a deep cover point but the rest of the off-side field up. So Lanning skips down to a flighted ball and lofts it over cover for four! Easy done. Next ball is fuller, a smaller shuffle and this time it goes along the carpet the same way for the same result. Jones makes a hash of it again, leaning back and going legs first as she slides, guaranteeing she won’t reach the ball, rather than diving hands first to save it. I suppose wicketkeepers don’t do a lot of boundary riding. Bit unreasonable to ask her to do the gig, then?
12th over: Australia 53-1 (Healy 41, Lanning 7) Oh, stop it. Nat Sciver comes on for Cross but she doesn’t get treated any more kindly. First ball she bowls, Healy plays a gorgeous on-drive through midwicket, which gives you a sense of how well it was timed. Beat the sweeper along the ground into the fence. Healy, as she often has in the last couple of years, is batting on a different pitch.
11th over: Australia 47-1 (Healy 36, Lanning 6) Sophie Ecclestone on with left-arm spin as the fielding restrictions are relaxed. Lanning dobs to cover and rushes a single. Healy carves another. Two from the over.
10th over: Australia 45-1 (Healy 35, Lanning 5) Cross pitches up to Healy and is drive straight for four! Lovely shot, high elbow, right by the stumps and splitting the mid-off and mid-on fielders down to the sightscreen. Cross tries again, a foot shorter, same result, more of a whip-drive from Healy bringing her hands through the ball rather than her elbow, but dead straight again for four! Done yet? Not quite. Anticipating a shorter length in response, Healy goes back on her stumps and whips, lofted, across the line to deep midwicket. Jones is out there, but her one-handed parry at the bouncing ball doesn’t slap it back into play, but over the line for four. Get her back into slip, stat. Healy finishes off with a steer behind point for two more. Big over, she’s 35 from 31 now.
9th over: Australia 31-1 (Healy 21, Lanning 5) Another shout from Shrubsole from a ball angling down leg, but the right-handed Lanning gets more lenience from the umpire. A couple of balls later she has another chance at the whip off the pads and this time nails it for four.
8th over: Australia 27-1 (Healy 21, Lanning 1) Healy loves going square on the off side, and she does so again against Cross for four with a drive. Cross gets some serious swing against Lanning and takes her edge, but it reaches slip on the bounce. Amy Jones is standing there, not wicketkeeping today with Taylor back. Lanning plays a classic Lanning shot next, opening the face and striking with a nice clean sound off the bat down through backward point, where she has scored so, so many of her international runs.
7th over: Australia 21-1 (Healy 16, Lanning 0) A wicket maiden for Shrubsole as Lanning arrives and carefully negotiates a couple of swinging deliveries. No big scores for Lanning for a while, and averaging 30 since she came back from her long layoff with a shoulder injury. Has the chance today to bat long.
The HawkEye replay, which is not available to the umpires because there is still absurdly almost never DRS in women’s cricket, says that Bolton’s delivery was missing leg stump. Not by much, so I wouldn’t class the call as a shocker, but it looked marginally not out live.
WICKET! Bolton lbw Shrubsole 4 (Australia 21-1)
First one for England! Bolton doesn’t like that. She’s struck on the pad and is wandering away to square leg casually, then hears the cheer from England and whips her head around to stare at the umpire in disbelief. That was going down leg, wasn’t it? On first glance. Bolton is walking off, but the replay tends to confirm that suspicion. Maybe it could have grazed leg stump? But there was a fair bit of angle from around the wicket, to the left-hander, and I don’t think it was straightening or swinging in.
6th over: Australia 21-0 (Healy 16, Bolton 4) Healy is playing more shots than Bolton but not getting many more runs for them. A couple of cuts, one mistimed, one saved by Wilson. A couple of runs skewed through cover, and eventually a single when Healy gets the cut shot angled back through short third rather than square to the field. Bolton takes off for a leg bye to close the over.
5th over: Australia 17-0 (Healy 13, Bolton 4) Thanks Mike! What a gent, holding the controls while I made the long trip from Manchester, where I was reporting on Australia-South Africa in the World Cup last night, to Canterbury this morning. Just the five and a half hours with the M1 closed, if you’re wondering. Bliss. Glad to be here at the end of it, as Nicole Bolton drives Shrubsole for four through mid-on, then plays out the rest of the over quite carefully, blocking on off stump as Shrubbers comes around the wicket and tries to angle the ball in.
4th over: Australia 13-0 (Healy 13, Bolton 0) Healy finds the boundary again with a chip over mid-wicket for four runs. A big shout comes at the end of the over as she gets a bit tucked up but the ball’s going down leg again. And with that, I’ll leave you in the capable hands of Geoff Lemon, who has got himself into the hot seat in Canterbury and will be here to guide you through the remainder of the Australia innings. Toodle pip.
3rd over: Australia 9-0 (Healy 9, Bolton 0) Shrubsole is getting some decent movement in the air; Nicole Bolton watches the ball well but can’t get it away for any runs. An excellent over, the first maiden of the game.
2nd over: Australia 9-0 (Healy 9, Bolton 0) Kate Cross opens from the other end. Healy is tempted by the first delivery, outside off, but doesn’t connect. But she does before too long as she finds the boundary with nothing more than a little flick off the legs that races away. Sciver gets to it, but can’t save the four runs.
1st over: Australia 5-0 (Healy 5, Bolton 0) Shrubsole opens the bowling and it takes just one sighter for Healy before she opens up and flashes a wide one away to the boundary to get Australia up and running. A ball later Shrubsle produces some huge swing to rap Healy on the pads, but it’s going down leg and despite the big shout, there’s nothing doing. Healy races through for a single and that’s the first over done.
England players run onto the pitch, and we’re nearly ready to go.
“Its a shame,” writes Tim from Bramhall, “that this series is so low profile, not helped by scheduling alongside the CWC. But I can’t help feeling that the location of these matches does not help, staged in mainly Southern or East Midlands small county grounds. Why does the ECB not take these matches to the cities, and why does the North not get a look in?”
Geoff Lemon touched on these very issues in the immediate aftermath of the first ODI in Leicester.
This will be the first of two meetings between these two great cricketing nations in the space of five days – they will clash again on Thursday in the men’s World Cup, after Australia failed to beat South Africa in their final round-robin game at Old Trafford 24 hours ago and as a result were leapfrogged by India into first place. Tanya Aldred’s match report from Old Trafford is pretty tremendous:
South Africa left the World Cup with a defiant raspberry, defeating Australia by 10 runs in another Old Trafford last-over thriller to set up a semi-final between England and Australia on Thursday. Tension had mounted after the result zipped across from Headingley, which meant Australia had to beat South Africa to finish top of the table – fail, and India would tuck into the freshly prepared New Zealand fattened calf, tender and soft, and send the reigning champions instead to Birmingham.
Geoff Lemon’s piece on the contest between two old mates is also not too shabby.
Confirmation of the lineups. England: Jones, Beaumont, Taylor (wicketkeeper), Sciver, Knight (captain), Wilson, Wyatt, Shrubsole, Cross, Marsh, Ecclestone. Australia: Bolton, Healy (wicketkeeper), Lanning (captain), Perry, Haynes, Mooney, Gardner, Kimmince, Wareham, Jonassen, Schutt.
Team news. England are forced into making one change: Katherine Brunt is indeed out with that ankle knock, so Sarah Taylor comes in.
Australia are unchanged. Captain Lanning says she “wasn’t too bothered” about losing the toss. “It’s a good batting wicket and it won’t change too much throughout the day.” Ominously she says there’s still room for Australian improvement. “It’s a massive game,” she adds.
England win the toss and will bowl first
Meg Lanning calls heads… it’s tails and England captain Heather Knight says the hosts will put Australia into bat.
Weather update. Geoff will be able to give you a more accurate view from his position on the ground at Canterbury later on, but a quick internet search tells me it’s currently 17C and cloudy with a light breeze and a small chance of rain between 11am and 1pm local. And this appears to confirm the cloud cover:
Still, there have been words of caution after the opening game from Australia bowler and Guardian guest columnist, Megan Schutt:
Remember, they made it to the World T20 final last year missing two of their best players. They are scrappers, which is what makes these amazing games. It’s why I love this series more than any other: there’s no hiding. Winning against them is so satisfying because you have to earn it.
Injuries. Not helping the host nation’s cause has been the couple of concerns casting a shadow over today’s game; Sarah Taylor missed the second ODI after picking up an ankle knock while Katherine Brunt also injured her ankle – while celebrating the key dismissal of Lanning during that game. Both will undergo late fitness tests before play starts today.
How close are Australia to wrapping up the series? Another win in Kent today and Meg Lanning’s side will move onto six points, having picked up two for each preceding win. With just eight needed to retain the title, they’re close – a win (four points) or even a draw (two) in the Test at Taunton would be enough, or failing that, just one win from the three T20s (two each) would seal the deal. In short, England badly need to win today if they are going to retain any realistic hopes alive of winning the series.
So, from back-to-back 50-over games in Leicester to a final one in this format at the historic St Lawrence Ground in Canterbury, before the travelling roadshow heads to a one-off Test later this month, followed by three final Twenty20s. Competitive interest in the series may well be gone by the time it comes to the last part of this multi-format series though, with Australia already well positioned to retain the Ashes having won the opening two fixtures of this points-based series. More on the ins and outs of that in a moment, but for now, there’s just time for a bit of housekeeping – send an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or tweet (@mike_hytner) if you’d like to get anything off your chest before Geoff Lemon steps in for the start of play in around an hour’s time.