Taylor's heroics in vain as Australia win Second Test of CricInfo Women's Series
The England Women lost the Second CricInfo Ashes Test by nine wickets at Headingley this afternoon.
In a weekend when Australians crushed the Lions and the England men's cricket team, Clare Connor's players fought for most of the day to save the match against the efficient and talented tourists.
It was enough to make Australia bat again, a minor triumph for an exuberant, but inexperienced England side.
However, once Connor herself went, bowled second ball without offering a shot, England were doomed.
But then, a thrilling fight back, led by centurion Claire Taylor, on England's best day of the series, gave the home country great hope for the future.
Australia equalled the record for Test wins at 5.21pm on the Third Day of this match, joining England with 16 victories. Two other women's Test records were broken in this game. The highest individual score in Tests, a record that had lasted just a week since Australia's Michelle Goszko equalled Kirsty Flavell's 1996 innings of 204, was beaten by left-hander Karen Rolton, who made 209 not out. She helped set a new fourth wicket Test best stand of 253 with Louise Broadfoot.
Appropriately, it was Rolton, who was the CricInfo Player of the Match, who hit the winning boundary.
Australian captain Belinda Clark, Rolton's partner at the finish, told CricInfo, "We're just thrilled with our performance. We came here to win both Tests and we've done that inside three days."
Taylor, a 25-year-old Oxford Mathematics graduate, with a previous Test best of 18, and an average of five, made a marvellous 137 to frustrate the Australian attack for 256 minutes today. Her century came up in 190 balls with a fifteenth four, this one driven sweetly through mid-on off Charmaine Mason.
When she was last out, bowled by Mason, who took 4/66, Australia knocked off the seven required in 19 balls, for the loss of Lisa Keightley, bowled by Clare Taylor for a duck.
Laura Harper, the youngest member of the England team, supported Taylor before she was caught at cover for 30, off 127 balls, after promising innings of 19, 20 and 31 in her first three Test knocks. From shortly after lunch until the third over after tea the pair were immovable, adding 81 for the sixth wicket.
However, when Harper holed out to Julie Hayes at cover, Cathryn Fitzpatrick put an extra bit in for the next delivery and had Nicky Shaw caught behind by wicketkeeper Julia Price.
With the score at 161/7, and a minimum of 22 overs remaining, the end was near for a valiant England team. But Dawn Holden (five) helped the now rampant Taylor put on 51 for the eighth wicket before lobbing to cover-point Hayes off Mason.
While the Australian bowling star was again Fitzpatrick, who took 4/81 to end the series with 17 wickets, England wicketkeeper 'Tails' Taylor resisted for 232 balls to add a Test ton to her match-winning 137 not out, achieved at the 2000 CricInfo Women's World Cup against Sri Lanka.
The systems analyst and former England age-group hockey player had Test scores of 11, nought, 18, six and 0 before going in today at 37/2.
The Oxford cricket and hockey blue told CricInfo, "We valued our wickets much more today. It just goes to show what we can do in the future."
But it will be Australia who will be celebrating tonight, before completing their highly successful tour with a visit to Ireland later this week.