England women v Australia women, 5th ODI, Taunton September 1, 2005

Everything to play for at Taunton



Clare Connor - "If we can clinch the series it's beyond our wildest dreams" © Getty Images

Ah, even the downtime days before the Ashes decider are tense. But there's another thriller in store today for England and Australia. The women reconvene at Taunton for a series decider which had looked unlikely three weeks ago when Australia stormed to a 2-0 lead in the five-match series. Factor in the fact that Australia hadn't lost to England in a one-dayer in 12 years and the Aussies were confident the series was in the bag.

England had other ideas, though, and went on to win the next two in a row. Oh, and they reclaimed the Ashes for the first time in 42 years along the way. They are now riding high and their inspirational captain Clare Connor is confident of icing the cake.

"If we can clinch the series it's beyond our wildest dreams," she said. "But the momentum's with us." It certainly is, and the momentum, in particular, is with batsman Claire Taylor, who has recorded scores of 57, 48, 82 and 116 so far this series.

In Arran Brindle, England also have a batsman capable of changing the momentum of an innings, which could prove crucial today if the opening bowlers Cathryn Fitzpatrick and Emma Liddell apply the squeeze in a second burst. Shelley Nitschke is also capable of ripping through them; she took seven wickets in the second match at Kidderminster.

Batting-wise, Australia have heavily relied on Karen Rolton's contributions this summer, with Belinda Clark averaging below 14. The fast bowler Jenny Gunn has been her nemesis, getting her twice this series and three out of four times in the Tests.

For the women, the Ashes are a very definite added bonus, but it's the one-day prize that is most precious for them. "It's the ultimate test in world cricket for us," says Connor. "How we do in one-day cricket is how we are judged." After losing to Australia in the semi-finals of the World Cup, England have every chance to make amends here. Today is judgment day.

England (probable) 1 Charlotte Edwards, 2 Laura Newton, 3 Claire Taylor, 4 Clare Connor (capt), 5 Arran Brindle, 6 Jenny Gunn, 7 Lydia Greenway, 8 Jane Smit (wk), 9 Katherine Brunt, 10 Isa Guha, 11 Clare Taylor.

Australia (probable) 1 Belinda Clark, 2 Lisa Keightley, 3 Karen Rolton, 4 Lisa Sthalekar, 5 Kate Blackwell, 6 Cathryn Fitzpatrick, 7 Alex Blackwell, 8 Julie Hayes, 9 Shelley Nitschke, 10 Julia Price, 11 Emma Liddell.

Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo

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