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February 18, 2008
England 244 and 4 for 144 (SC Taylor 64) beat Australia 154 and 9 for 231 dec (Sthalekar 98) by six wickets
England retained the Ashes in style thanks to Claire Taylor, whose second fifty of the match drove them home to a stylish six-wicket win in the final session after Karen Rolton's daring declaration backfired. When the embers of the sole match are raked over Australia may rightfully rue being given only one chance to recapture the prize but England deserve credit for playing to win, and succeeding, when a draw would have been enough.
They owe much to Isa Guha who finished with match figures of 9 for 100 and was on for her second five-for when Rolton called her batting troops in at 9 for 231, leaving England needing a mere 142 but gambling big with her side having only one throw. They made some inroads with a few wickets but Taylor played a mature hand which trumped everything the Australians - with two of the world's fastest bowlers in Emma Sampson and Ellyse Perry - had to throw at them.
In actual fact it was Lisa Sthalekar who troubled them the most for the second time with the ball having failed just short of her second Test hundred. Resuming on 95 not out, she had a licence to drill the ball anywhere she liked, having promised that the nineties would not be nervous but bold.
Her Warne-like contributions of cunning spin and handy Ashes runs in a losing cause must not go unrecognised, and she and Shelley Nitschke made sure the match went into the final session by getting the ball to spin back a long way and troubling the England batsmen.
The final session began with England seven wickets remaining needing 45 runs which was hardly tense and although they lost Sarah Taylor and Lydia Greenway, Claire Taylor and the captain Charlotte Edwards fittingly brought home the Ashes with Taylor striking the final four.
The win may not be as widely reported in England as the men's 5-0 defeat was but that won't stop the women celebrating long into the night.
"We really gave it our all throughout the match," Rolton said. "We had a disappointing first day but there were several stages with both the bat and ball where we were able to get ourselves back into the match. There was a lot of positive cricket played."
A glowing Edwards said: "I'm delighted, almost lost for words. To beat Australia in Australia is a fantastic feeling. We had always said we would come out here and aim to win this match in order to retain the Ashes and that's what we did today.
"I'm so proud of all my players. We have played some fantastic cricket over these past four days to continually have the upper hand over Australia and to pull through and secure victory today was a great effort."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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