January 29, 2003

Rolton demonstrates the versatility in her batting in seven-wicket win

World cricket's best women's batsman Karen Rolton gave a demonstration of her ability to temper her play to suit her Australian side's circumstances as they beat England by seven wickets at Bert Sutcliffe Oval in the World Series of Women's Cricket today.

Rolton, normally one of the freer scoring batsmen around, was 68 not out off 102 balls when Australia picked up the bonus point with a handful of balls to spare when reaching their target of 157.

She had lost a formidable ally in Belinda Clark in the 15th over when Australia were still in the danger zone at 52 for two wickets.

But she firstly helped Melanie Jones add 34 runs for the third wicket and then added an unbroken 71 runs for the fourth wicket with Michelle Goszko.

As long as Rolton was at the crease there was an inevitability about the victory. She was unflustered even while unable to play her natural game. She spent six overs in the 50s but as the need for a bonus point emerged, she put the foot back down on the accelerator. Her half-century, the 16th of her career, came off 87 balls and 15 balls later she finished on 68.

It was an indication of how often she turned over the strike to Goszko that when they achieved their 50 partnership, Goszko had scored 26 of them. It was a partnership in the true sense and not a Rolton-dominated affair.

Clark had looked in menacing touch until not quite getting onto a ball from England slow bowler Laura Harper which was taken by Clare Taylor at mid-on when she had scored 23 off 46 balls and Australia's 50 had come up off 87 balls.

Earlier, England managed to bat through their 50 overs after deciding to bat first on the wicket that has been used for the first three matches of the tournament before today.

But, despite a sound start, of 33 runs in the first 12 overs, England were unable to pick up any scoring momentum. Australia compounded this with their superbly-disciplined positioning between overs. There was no wastage of time and by the end of the innings they had 19 minutes up their sleeves.

That allowed the batsmen little time to settle between overs, and if it was an intended tactic it worked very well. Claire Taylor looked one batsman capable of taking on the Australians and she struck some meaty blows, especially straight down the ground and through the covers in her 50-ball 35.

Laura Newton and Clare Connor attempted to build the total with some effective running between the wickets and deft placements of the ball. But Newton was bowled by Cathryn Fitzpatrick, her 98th victim in One-Day Internationals, for 18 while Connor attempted to hit out against medium pacer Julie Hayes but holed out to Clark at mid-on for 29 off 49 balls.

Any hope that England had of a lower-order lift disappeared on the back of three run outs achieved in the space of five balls, two of them due to players being too eager in backing up and being run out at the bowler's end.

A changed opening partnership of Charlotte Edwards and Arran Thompson provided some solidity although Thompson seemed to lose her way in the latter stages of her innings and when dismissed her 11 runs had come off 64 balls.

Fitzpatrick again proved her class when her 10 overs produced one for 28 while Hayes took one for 21 from nine overs.

Of England's bowlers, Harper took two for 31 from 10, including the key wicket of Clark while Lucy Pearson took one for 32 off 10.

Tomorrow's England-New Zealand match, on Lincoln No 3, will complete the first round of the tournament.