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January 10, 2014
Australia 2 for 9 (Shrubsole 2-4) trail England 201 (Brindle 68, Sciver 49, Farrell 4-43) by 192 runs
Australia failed to round off an otherwise excellent day's work on the opening day of the women's Test at Perth when, having bowled England out for only 201, their openers both succumbed to Anya Shrubsole in a tricky six-over period before close of play.
Shrubsole forced Elyse Villani to nick one to Heather Knight at first slip on 4, then had Meg Lanning caught behind for 5. Both were subjected to some short, attacking bowling from Shrubsole and her new-ball partner Katherine Brunt. Shrubsole finished with figures of 2-4, and England left the pitch smiling for the first time.
Earlier, England had been dismissed to 201 after captain Charlotte Edwards won the toss and elected to bat on a pitch that looks likely to break up by the fourth day of this Test. On a stereotypical WACA pitch, it was the quicks who made the early breakthroughs.
Holly Ferling dismissed Heather Knight for 14, swatting at a ball outside off-stump to send an easy catch to Jess Cameron at second slip, with her third ball of the day. Ellyse Perry followed this up in the next over with the crucial wicket of Sarah Taylor, trapped lbw to an inswinger for one, having faced just two deliveries.
Edwards, so often Australia's biggest nemesis, was then given out lbw for 17 to a full delivery which hit her on the back pad from second-change quick Sarah Coyte, leaving her team faltering at 3 for 32.
England needed an anchor, and they found one, of sorts, in Arran Brindle, who passed 500 Test runs. Her fluent innings of 68 included 12 boundaries, and she shared partnerships of 64 with Lydia Greenway and 58 with Natalie Sciver, before playing on against the last ball before tea. Greenway had been given out to a similar inswinger from Perry earlier in the session, and England went to tea five down.
Sciver, batting with a maturity that belied her debutant status, scored 49 as England managed to claw their way to 189, but when she was out caught behind chasing a stray ball down the leg side, it was symptomatic of a poor performance with the bat from England. The Barmy Army, at the ground hoping for some English revenge, were audibly deflated by the turn of events.
The Australian bowlers must be given credit: not one of the bowlers failed to perform. All four of the quicks - Perry, Ferling, Farrell and Coyte - found movement off the pitch, with Ferling's first spell of five overs particularly ferocious. Spinners Erin Osborne and Sarah Elliott bowled in tandem during the afternoon session and dried up the runs to great effect.
Rene Farrell, though, playing in her first international match since the 2011 Ashes Test, was the highlight. With support from Perry, she swept through England's tail, having Brunt caught by Alex Blackwell at gully and tempting Danielle Hazell to hit out to Villani at mid-wicket, finishing with figures of 4 for 3.
A day of Test cricket in which 12 wickets fell suggests that this is a bowlers' pitch, a fact which both Sciver and Farrell acknowledged at close of play. England's two quick wickets mean, crucially, that this Test is now evenly poised, and as with the Perth temperatures - it is forecast to be 44 degrees tomorrow - is certain to heat up from here on in.
Raf Nicholson is a PhD student, an England supporter, a feminist, and fanatical about women's cricket. She tweets hereFeeds: Raf Nicholson
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