February 8, 2000

Australia regain the Rose Bowl

The Australian women's team asserted their place alongside their male counterparts as the number one team in their sport, following their sixwicket victory over New Zealand at the Albert Cricket Ground in Melbourne today.

The win ensured that Australia claimed an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the threematch series over the only team who could be considered a serious rival to their quest for the World Cup this coming December. The win, Australia's sixth in six one-day internationals in the past eleven days, means that the Rose Bowl - women's cricket's answer to rugby union's Bledisloe Cup - returns to Australian soil.

New Zealand squandered a good opening stand of 81 in 21.2 overs to finish on 8/166. Australia scored the required 167 for the loss of just four wickets and 22 balls to spare.

Debbie Hockley, who today became the first woman to appear in 100 one-day internationals, picked up from where she left off on Sunday, dominating the batting and taking the attack to the Australian bowlers. She blasted Therese McGregor out of the attack after taking four boundaries off her third over. The first wicket fell when Kate Pulford (27) was run out, the third run out of the series in which Hockley was involved.

When Hockley was dismissed, caught off a top edge to wicketkeeper Julia Price off the bowling of Avril Fahey for 66, the momentum fell away. Kathryn Ramel finished unbeaten on 28. Avril Fahey (3/27) was the most successful of the Australian bowlers, while Cathryn Fitzpatrick (2/34) left it till her final over to take two wickets in the aspace of three deliveries. Charmaine Mason, who was so successful with the ball against England, went wicketless in this game, taking 0/39.

As they have done so many times in the past, Belinda Clark and Lisa Keightley got Australia off to a rousing start in their chase of 167, sharing an opening partnership of 124. Helen Watson broke the stand when she accepted a return catch off Clark in the 32nd over. Clark's 78 from 96 deliveries was her fourth consecutive ODI half-century, and included the first six of the international summer, when she pulled a Haidee Tiffen fulltoss over the square leg boundary.

Keightley (49) was bowled by Katrina Keenan while attempting to bring up her half-century. Despite the loss of Cherie Bambury (4) and Jo Broadbent (run out without scoring) the Australians cruised to their target with relative ease.

The final match in the series will be played at the Junction Oval, St kilda, tomorrow. Though a dead rubber, Australia will be aiming to finish their brief international season with seven wins out of seven.