Edwards, Taylor help England women retain Ashes
England 151 for 1 (Edwards 92*, Taylor 50*, Jonassen 1-18) beat Australia 150 for 3 (Lanning 78*, Perry 29*, Hazell 1-25) by 9 wickets
England made history in Hobart, winning the women's Ashes on Australian soil for only the third time, as their captain Charlotte Edwards, the player of the match, hit 92 off just 59 balls and guided the visitors to a nine-wicket victory with 13 balls to spare. The win leaves England with an unassailable points lead of 10-4 in the series.
Australia had set England a target of 151, which looked to be a tough ask: only three teams have previously successfully chased down scores of over 150 in women's T20Is. But England began with clear intent, as Edwards dispatched two short, wide deliveries from Rene Farrell in the first over to the boundary. She then stroked a further two fours backward of square off Julie Hunter in her second over, giving England 10 runs from it and leaving them strongly placed at 32 for no loss after four overs.
Australia's spinners fared better, with Jess Jonassen taking the only wicket of the innings: Danielle Wyatt, caught at mid-off by a diving Alex Blackwell as she mistimed a drive. Erin Osborne, bowling around the wicket, also achieved a better line against the England batsmen.
Australia's quicks, however, struggled to dry up the runs as England remained consistently ahead of the par score, and Edwards and Sarah Taylor hit out against the pace attack. Even Ellyse Perry was unaccustomedly expensive, giving away 21 runs from her two overs. Edwards' fifty came in the 11th over off just 34 balls, as she played a dream innings that included a glorious six, pulled over midwicket.
There was one chance for Australia, which came in the ninth over with Taylor on 13, as Edwards called for a single and Taylor ran to the striker's end. Alyssa Healy removed the bails, but replays showed that she had fumbled the ball and hit the stumps with her gloves.
Taylor capitalised on the opportunity, as she provided good support for Edwards, with the two of them accumulating a partnership of 114 runs off just 80 balls. Taylor reached her own half-century in the 18th over after which Edwards aptly hit the winning runs, stroking a glorious four through mid-wicket.
Australia, on their part, had set a very competitive total after the captain Meg Lanning won the toss and chose to bat. They began badly, losing a wicket in the first over of their innings as Elyse Villani, playing ahead of in-form Nicole Bolton in a bizarre decision by the selectors, continued her poor run of form in internationals, was trapped lbw for 4 to her second attempted sweep shot of the over.
From there, the pressure was on for Australia, as they managed just 30 runs off the first five overs, and struggled to score against the 17-year-old Natasha Farrant, who was drafted into the team in place of the injured Anya Shrubsole, and the spin of Danielle Hazell. Alex Blackwell, promoted to open the batting, had an easy catch dropped by Amy Jones when on 7, but could not capitalise and was run-out for a run-a-ball 21.
The loss of that wicket further slowed things up for Australia, as Natalie Sciver continued to rein in the batters. Then, in the 14th over, Wyatt struck to remove Jess Cameron and the hosts were left struggling at 83 for 3.
Lanning proceeded to rescue the innings, as she and Perry added 50 runs in the last five overs. Lanning raced to a 54-ball 78 and in the process, notched the third-highest score by an Australian in women's T20s. Her partnership with Perry (who contributed 29 off 23 balls) was worth 67 runs for Australia, and left England needing to score at 7.55 an over.
But ultimately, Australia paid for their slow start, and England were left celebrating their historic triumph, as Edwards became the only captain to ever lead the side to two women's Ashes victories in Australia.
Raf Nicholson is a PhD student, an England supporter, a feminist, and fanatical about women's cricket. She tweets here