England's Ashes tour off to horror start
Victoria 1 for 143 (Haynes 50, Edwards 63*) beat England 137 by nine wickets
England arrived in Australia full of hope and expectation but with a good deal of winter rust still to shake off, proven by a thumping nine-wicket defeat to Victoria in the opener on Thursday in Melbourne.
Their far-from-polished display, against a state team who came second from bottom in their domestic league, was possibly grounds to worry, but also explained perhaps by not having played any outdoor cricket for six months as a team. Then again, nearly half the side have been out in Australia playing grade, and sometimes state, cricket.
The visitors batted, then, and were rolled for 137, with Jenny Gunn the topscorer 29 from 77 balls. Gunn has been playing for Sydney and South Australia, while Lydia Greenway, who has also been Down Under for the last four months, made 20. Beth Morgan has also spent her winter here so far but she made just 1, while fellow opener Sarah Taylor reached 21.
Stephanie Davies made her England debut and hit 4 not out batting at No. 11 (and later had five overs for 21) while vice-captain Nicki Shaw held them up from lower down the order with 26 to push them on from 9 for 105 on a slow pitch.
England took a leaf out of the men's book, by opting to use 13 players in rotation to give their players the best chance for practice. Charlotte Edwards used nine bowlers, but it was only Gunn who could find any penetration, with the sole wicket of Ellyse Villani, trapped in front for 16. There were fifties for Rachael Haynes and Sarah Edwards and they completed the job inside 36 overs.
England will now look to put the result behind them when they take on Australia Under-21 on Monday. After such a poor start, how they recover is the key, so the next match will certainly test their mettle.