England v India , only women's Test, Wormsley, 1st day August 13, 2014

India hold edge as 16 wickets tumble

Melinda Farrell at Wormsley

India Women 87 for 6 (Gunn 4-13) trail England Women 92 (Niranjana 4-19) by five runs

The dawn of the fully professional era for England Women did not exactly unfold as planned.

This was expected, by many, to be a lop-sided affair between a team of full-time athletes, most with Test match experience, and a team containing eight players on Test debut. Between a side which has played two Tests in the preceding twelve months and a side which has not played a Test in eight years. Between a team which has won back-to-back Women's Ashes Series - and reached the finals of the most recent 50 over World Cup and World T20 - and a team which has slipped to seventh in the world in the shorter formats of the game.

Based on the opening day of the stand-alone Test at Wormsley, it was difficult to tell which side was which.

In fact, at one point in the afternoon, when India reached 40 without losing a wicket after bowling England out for 92 runs - their lowest ever Test total against India - it was the tourists who looked comfortable, in control and with the perfect opportunity to take a significant first innings lead.

India will undoubtedly rue the fact they squandered the chance to seriously press their advantage with the bat after their bowlers had performed so admirably. Instead of going on the offensive, India batted defensively and allowed the hosts back into the contest, losing 6 for 24 in the evening session. Thanks largely to the efforts of the excellent Jenny Gunn, who took 4 for 13 in 12 overs, the match now rests evenly poised, although India, trailing by five with four wickets in hand, still have the chance to establish a decent lead in the morning of the second day.

After Mithali Raj won the toss it was no surprise to see her elect to insert England and give her seamers the chance to bowl on a green-tinged pitch - a stark contrast to the slow wicket on offer here a year ago when England and Australia fought out a frustrating and slow-scoring draw. In the lead up to this Test the ECB asked for a more lively pitch to allow both sides to display their skills with bat and ball. They perhaps got more than they bargained for, with 16 wickets tumbling on a day when only seven players reached double figures.

The question of professionalism in the women's game must also include the location of future Tests. While the surrounds of Wormsley provide a stunningly picturesque backdrop, the remote location of the ground, the cost of travel and lack of nearby public transport must be an impediment to attracting crowds, particularly on weekdays.

As a result it is understood the ECB is considering moving future women's Tests to more accessible locations, with Lord's the likely venue for next summer's Test against Australia as part of the 2015 Women's Ashes Series.

India's opening bowlers certainly rewarded Raj's decision to field. The veteran Jhulan Goswami and Nagarajan Niranjana bowled intelligently and accurately, consistently delivering full-length outswingers that forced the England batsmen to play their shots but also regularly beat the bat.

The deliveries that jagged back were more than effective. Seduced by the balls that moved away, seven England players were trapped lbw - setting a new record for number of lbws in a women's Test innings - one was caught behind, and another was clean bowled. Only the final wicket, when Kate Cross was run out chasing a second run, which was never really on offer, provided any variation.

Although they had the advantage of greater experience, England's batsman looked somewhat nervous and uncomfortable at the crease, with the exception of Sarah Taylor, who compiled 30 runs - the highest score of the day - before she was trapped by one of Goswami's inswingers.

In contrast India's openers, Thirush Kamini and Smriti Mandhana, looked almost too comfortable - generally content to prod and defend. England had made the unusual decision not to play a specialist spinner and rely on their seamers to do the damage and, while Anya Shrubsole had two big appeals for lbw turned down in her opening over, it was not until Charlotte Edwards brought Gunn into the attack that the breakthrough was made.

Whatever happens from here, India's competitive display sends a message to the BCCI that there is talent here worthy of investment. If a semi-professional side can compete with players who now have the opportunity to train full-time together, it remains to be seen what could be achieved if central contracts were introduced to the India players.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on August 14, 2014, 17:39 GMT

    the men's team should learn from these women.. Proud of you girls.. bring us what our famed men couldnt..

  • Dhiraj on August 14, 2014, 8:56 GMT

    Good job ladies. Good to see the girls put up a fight. Hope the BCCI wakes up to their good performance and offers them professional contracts. Its been due for a long time. Also hope more people follow the womens cricket team and more tours are scheduled for the women. Good luck again!!!!

  • Tony on August 14, 2014, 4:43 GMT

    Congradulate the women team, and if India wins this series, I will take it 1-1 for India Eng cricket as men loose (i'm almost certain about that) and women win it for India. Better one billion hopes rely on our women.

  • Dummy4 on August 14, 2014, 3:05 GMT

    Before I could finish applauding Niranjana's bowling performance, four of the six Indians were "Gunned" down, by England! Is it a seamers' pitch, or poor batting performance? Or, rustiness from long periods of no play?

  • Dummy4 on August 14, 2014, 1:36 GMT

    It makes no sense to introduce central contracts for the Indian women. All that will achieve is about 20-25 women get paid lot of money to sit on their.

    What they desperately need is competitive cricket. Why not introduce a women's IPL and let them play a women's match before the men's .. would be attractive proposition for the players and the punters..

    If BCCI and other governing bodies can provide regular cricket, the players will earn enough even from their appearance fee.. and will provide people outside the core group a chance to grow as well.

  • John on August 14, 2014, 0:05 GMT

    I think it's rather generous even to call the India players "semi-professional". They have proven worthy of investment and the BCCI deserves all criticism if they don't respond by doing so. As for this game, I would expect a better showing from the England batsmen the second time around. It certainly sounds like there was plenty in the pitch for the bowlers; probably too much and England may have been taken somewhat by surprise. It's a shame that, after the long wait for a Test for India, it looks like being over in no more than three days and possibly even two if England can't bat well the second time around.

  • Dummy on August 13, 2014, 20:46 GMT

    Indian men should learn from niranjana(bowling tips)...

  • Ashok on August 13, 2014, 20:23 GMT

    While Indian Men's Team get "Big Buck" contracts for their 100% loss record overseas, here is the Women's team looking good with little or no financial support for any of their players. It is the first Test series ever played abroad. Most of the Women are financially poor. They have to make sacrifices even to dedicate time for regular Cricket practice. This reminds me of an era 1950 t0 late 1970's when Indian Men cricketer just got the match fee + per diem- No contracts. England's women Cricketers were recently awarded some sort of contracts. Considering all these drawbacks associated with Women's Cricket team, I was so pleased to see the Indian team playing on even terms with England. India will at least gain the first innings lead & if they fight hard in the second innings, they might even Win. So Kudos to Indian team for their great showing on the first day- Totally opposite to Indian Men's team - 8 runs for 4 wkts. day 1 @ old Trafford + all out for 152. Money talking Negatively!

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