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July 12, 2009
Australia 309 and 128 for 1 (Blackwell 59*) lead England 268 (Morgan 58, Gunn 41, Marsh 38) by 169 runs
If the men's final-day experience at Cardiff is a marker as to the importance of the Ashes for England and Australia, the women's last day tomorrow ought to be a cracker. England's Beth Morgan did a Paul Collingwood, scratching and grinding out a vital half-century while Laura Marsh - admittedly a slightly better batsman than Monty Panesar - offered 38 as England's women continued to defy Australia at Worcester.
With one day to go, Australia lead by 169, but tough decisions will need to be made if they are to set a daring declaration to give themselves any hope of bowling England out and regaining the Ashes.
Morgan - a dasher in the ICC World Twenty20; a digger and blocker here in the Test - spent nearly six hours at the crease for her dogged 58, her maiden half-century in Tests. She lost Jenny Gunn after adding a further 20 to their overnight stand of 57, with the follow-on still looming a mere 24 runs away. But Morgan and Katherine Brunt, who made 27 from 84 balls, took England to relative safety and, crucially, took time away from Australia. Marsh occupied the crease for 72 minutes for her 38 - Holly Colvin 78 minutes for her 17 - as England slowly ground Australia down.
Alex Blackwell made up for her duck in the first innings, stroking 59 and putting on an unbeaten second-wicket stand of 79 with the former captain, Karen Rolton, as Australia reached 128 for 1. How adventurous Jodie Fields, the newly instated captain, feels tomorrow will determine whether England retain, or Australia regain.
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