Edwards leads England with outstanding 94
England 7 for 222 (Edwards 94, SC Taylor 79) lead Australia 154 by 68 runs
Charlotte Edwards fell six short of a deserved century, but her innings kept England on track for an Ashes-retaining victory in Bowral. Edwards, the captain, was the most dominant figure on another day that favoured the visitors until Australia rallied as stumps approached.
England finished on 7 for 222 after losing four late wickets for three runs, but they hold a valuable 68-run advantage after the performances of Edwards and Claire Taylor. Australia were desperate for wickets and picked up two quick ones early in the morning, when the openers Caroline Atkins and Beth Morgan both fell on 26.
Unfortunately for the home side it would not gain another breakthrough until Ellyse Perry took the new ball and had Edwards caught behind by Leonie Coleman. By then Edwards had driven her team ahead of Australia's 154 and her only disappointment was falling for 94 and missing a fourth Test century. She kept her concentration for 182 balls and struck 11 boundaries in what was by far the most aggressive innings of the match.
The 159-run third-wicket stand, a record against Australia, could be the crucial one of the Test and it made the hosts' task to stay in the contest even harder after their disappointing batting on the first day. Taylor was eventually undone trying to cut the offspin of Lisa Sthalekar and was well caught by Coleman, finishing with a hard-working 79 off 252 balls.
"My feelings are mixed," Taylor said. "I'm happy to have batted for so long with Lottie but disappointed that I didn't see the day through and help the team into a stronger position."
Sthalekar went on to bowl Sarah Taylor in her next over and Australia's spirits were lifted further when she captured Nicki Shaw for 0. At the other end Shelley Nitschke removed Lydia Greenway for no score three overs before the close. Sthalekar collected 3 for 39 while Perry, the youngest Test player in Australia's history, captured 2 for 46.
Karen Rolton, the Australia captain, has not given up hope of a victory that would regain the trophy. "To take five wickets in that last session was a brilliant effort," she said. "We just had to hang in there and I am glad that the girls fought really well until the end."