Australia successfully defended their title and retained the Women’s Ashes with a thrilling three-run victory over England, who came close to a remarkable victory thanks to an extraordinary unbeaten century from Nat Sciver-Brunt.
Sciver-Brunt’s brilliant 111 off 99 balls lifted England from a precarious 203–7 to the point where they needed 15 runs from the last over and five off the last ball.
However, Australia, led by bowler Jess Jonassen, held their nerve in the final over to ensure victory and retain possession of the urn. With one match to go, the points-based series is currently 8-6 in Australia’s favour. The series will conclude on Tuesday in Taunton.
Australia owed a lot to their number eight batsman, Georgia Wareham, who scored 26 runs in the last over bowled by Lauren Bell, leaving Australia at 240–7 with three overs to spare. While Wareham’s contribution was important, England’s fielding errors also played a role in their defeat, notably three dropped catches by Ellyse Perry, who scored 91 runs.
In the second ODI at Bristol, England leveled the series with their highest-ever successful run chase, setting the stage for another record-breaking effort to keep their hopes alive. England started strongly and opener Tammy Beaumont continued her fine form with a blistering 62-ball 60.
However, Australia’s spinners once again proved to be the difference makers as all seven of England’s wickets fell to spin. Leg-spinner Alana King and off-spinner Ash Gardner took three wickets each as they dismantled the English middle order.
Despite Sciver-Brunt’s unexpected century, which was her third unbeaten century in her last four ODIs against Australia, she was disappointed as she managed only one run off the final ball. England still has a chance to level the series with a win in the last ODI. However, they were clearly distraught after missing out on the win that could have brought them back into contention. Australia initially took a 6–0 lead in the points-based series before England made an impressive comeback.
Sciver-Brunt’s performance once again demonstrated his potential as England’s defender. He had earlier played a remarkable inning of 148 not out in the 2022 World Cup final against Australia, where he almost won England while chasing a mammoth target of 356.
His innings in this match echoed the same sentiment, with Australia favourites, but Sciver-Brunt standing firmly between them and potential glory. Despite her valiant efforts, England fell just short, leaving Sciver-Brunt devastated once again.
Australia’s spinners proved to be the difference-makers throughout the series, even in their defeat. However, this was a rare victory for them as England attacked them, disrupting their general dominance. The spin duo of Alanna King and Ash Gardner have been excellent, with Gardner’s impressive debut season taking eight wickets in the Test match. Jess Jonassen finished off the game skilfully with his experience.
Australia also rectified their fielding mistakes, exemplified by a brilliant full-length dive by Phoebe Litchfield that saved valuable runs. Eventually, England put up a valiant fight, but were defeated by a dominant Australian performance.