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June 29, 2009
England women 134 for 1 (Taylor 68, Atkins 48*) beat Australia women 133 (Farrell 39*, Andrews 16, Colvin 3-27) by nine wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
Women's cricket has struggled for publicity and attention for years, but if England's world champions continue to produce performances like today's, they will have to get used to the limelight and subsequent accolades. Not even the absence of their inspirational captain Charlotte Edwards stuttered their stride at Chelmsford, as Sarah Taylor's 74-ball 68 led them to the most clinical of wins against a shell-shocked Australia in the first of five ODIs.
Impressive though Taylor was, it was England's bowlers who set up such a convincing win, dismissing Australia for just 133 - an outstanding display following their humbling in the Twenty20 last week. Then, Shelley Nitschke produced a fine allround performance to beat an England side who looked jaded and a little hungover from their ICC World Twenty triumph. Today, however, Nitschke fell first ball to the returning Katherine Brunt, and England's spearhead followed it up with the wicket of Lisa Sthalekar, edging a beautiful outswinger behind, and Taylor did the rest with a smart catch, low to her right. Right from the off, England were on the money.
The two early blows left England exuberant, Australia shocked. All eyes were on Karen Rolton, the former captain, as she tried to rebuild, but Isa Guha - recalled for the Twenty20 last week, but who looked short of form - gained encouraging movement through the air, and had Rolton edging behind for just a single. Nicky Shaw, the stand-in captain, rotated her bowlers regularly, and she herself was in metronomic form, conceding a remarkably miserly four runs in her first four overs, removing her opposite number, Fields, for a combative 15.
It was the introduction of Holly Colvin, however, which really turned the screw. A lovely flighted delivery to Poulton - shocked into submission today - had her caught at long-on, and when Ellyse Perry was brilliantly stumped by Taylor for a 16-ball single, Australia were in a desperate hole at 42 for 6, and in danger of recording their lowest-ever totals in ODIs.
Alex Blackwell became the seventh victim - a horrid slog across the line - before a brief renaissance took place between Lauren Ebsary and Rene Farrell, the pair putting on a face-saving 30 for the eighth wicket. They avoided their lowest-ever total (77), and their worst against England (119 for 9), thanks to Farrell and the No.11, Andrews, who put on a record tenth-wicket partnership of 36 in just under 15 overs of dull but necessarily cautious cricket, occasionally pitted by a boundary.
It was never going to be nearly enough, and Taylor and Caroline Atkins stroked England towards their target, barely offering a chance. Taylor began cautiously against the new ball before cutting Sarah Andrews powerfully for four. The pair's running was urgent, purposeful and another loose delivery from Ellyse Perry was thrashed for four more past point. The shot of the day came five balls later when Taylor cracked Perry on the up, beating cover's hopeful dive, and England's 50 was up in the twelfth over. By comparison, at the same stage Australia were tottering on 34 for 4.
Australia's new captain, Jodie Fields, swapped her bowlers around regularly, but the spinners were comfortably milked by England's openers. Leah Polton's first legbreak was square-driven beautifully by Atkins, before Taylor swept her powerfully through midwicket to bring up England's hundred, leaving them a further 27 to win from as many overs. Taylor was in a hurry, clobbering Erin Osborne over her head for the most authoritative of fours, though she did blot her copybook with a loose slog to fall with 15 still needed.
This was a champion performance by a team who continue to play with style and panache, two adjectives not commonly associated with women's cricket even two years ago, but which are now increasingly apt with this England side.