July 6, 2001

Australia women close in on England total

A tough batting effort by an outclassed England team saw them through to 144 all out in 80 overs in the second and final match of the CricInfo series against Australia.

In reply the tourists had reached 68-1, just 76 behind, in the remaining 24 overs of the day's play. Lisa Keightley (29) and Karen Rolton (26) added 52 after Belinda Clark went for seven, slashing a wide one from Clare Taylor to Dawn Holden in the gully.

Having been put in, England's inexperienced batsmen had little to offer but grit against the fastest woman bowler in the world, Cathryn Fitzpatrick. With a recorded delivery of 120km/hour the Victorian appropriately works for the Australian postal service.

"England showed a bit more intent today. It was harder for them the way the wicket played," said the speedy motorbike delivery rider, who took eight wickets including 5-31 in last week's First Test at Shenley.

Incidentally, another lightning-quick Aussie, Olympic gold-medal winner Cathy Freeman is sponsored by the service, although Fitzpatrick modestly admits, "she has a little bit higher profile than me".

Determined innings of 37 from Sarah Collyer, 31 from Laura Harper and 24 from Dawn Holden - three of England's six under-21s - meant England were always competitive.

While the youngsters shone for England it was 33-year-old Fitzpatrick (5-31) who delivered. "It was good to get them all out before the end of the day," she added, going on to praise a quality fielding display, which included three dismissals from wicket-keeper Julia Price and reflex close-in catches from captain Clark and vice-captain Rolton.

As in the First Test no England partnership added 50, despite Collyer, Harper, Holden and captain Clare Connor lasting more than an hour each.

The two 17-year-olds, Collyer, with a 142-ball 37, and Harper, with a contrasting 70-ball 31, showed the potential of a spirited England team, whose new coach John Harmer effectively starts his new job after this series. Jane Powell is in charge until then, when she becomes Assistant Head Coach.

The match started 30 minutes early so Leeds Rhinos and Salford Reds could use the changing rooms that are shared with the rugby league ground that backs on to Headingley for their evening game.

The match will again begin at 10.30am tomorrow, as England Women, as well as the men's Test team, look set for a long day in the field on Saturday.