<
>

Jonassen shines on debut to lift Australia

Australia 268 for 8 (Jonassen 95*, Shrubsole 4-59) v England
Scorecard

Given the paucity of Test cricket in the women's game, it is easy to take weight out of certain statistics. A batting average in excess of 40 and a bowling average in the teens can be explained away by sample size. But Jess Jonassen, playing in this, the 138th women's Test, is five runs away from becoming only the 12th Test debutant to score a century.

Even in the context of this match, one that could see Australia establish an almost insurmountable lead or England go 6-4 ahead, her 95 from 186 balls is more than worthy of history's eye. On a day that ebbed and flowed, with England's Anya Shrubsole putting in an inspired shift to take four wickets on an overcast first day at Canterbury, Jonassen ensured that the visitors will sleep easier.

Perhaps the most noticeable thing about Jonassen is her set-up at the crease: a very Australian trait where her trigger movements are almost non-existent allows her to drive with little flourish. She seemed capable of doing exactly what was needed to each ball and, as a result, put together a very watchable innings.

At ease with the bounce of the pitch, her calm approach was typified by an all-round technique so tight that she could bat in a telephone box. Her wagon wheel, with nine of her ten fours coming down the ground and an array of tucks and pushes in front of square, is one you would pay to have framed.

The milestone that she has already achieved is a notable one - a first fifty for Australia, from 93 balls. "I'm not going to lie," she began at the press conference, "that did cross my mind when I was in the forties. That always seems to be when I have got out."

Having started out as a left-arm spinner, she has come into her own as a genuine allrounder. In the 2014-15 Australia summer, she scored 197 runs at 49.25 and took 11 wickets at 13.36 in the first five matches for Queensland Fire. Despite missing the rest of the season to have knee surgery so that she could make this tour, she was named the Women's National Cricket League Player of the Year. Another accolade awaits: "Hopefully I can go out there and get at least five tomorrow."

England can take solace in their application, not least he effort put in by Shrubsole and Katherine Brunt, who between themselves bowled 45 of the 97 overs on a pitch that, while true of bounce, lacked pace.

In Shrubsole and Brunt, England have an opening duo worthy of a better, quicker surface than what lay before them. Those in the know say the pitch, should it reach the fourth and final day, will "rag square". On paper, that would favour Australia. Viewers were treated to glimpses of turn throughout the day, most notably when Laura Marsh, bowling offbreaks around the wicket to the right-handed Alyssa Healy, pitched one in line and got it to straighten to trap the Australian in front.

Both Shrubsole and Brunt idolised West Indian greats when growing up: the former a fan of Michael Holding, the latter wearing out older brother Daniel's Bats, Balls and Bouncers video tape for another look at Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh "annihilating everyone". It was a shame that they were not afforded a surface on which they could attempt to replicate the pace and bounce of their heroes. As a result, the opening exchanges proved frustrating.

A quicker pitch might have allowed Brunt to find the edge of either Elyse Villani or Nicole Bolton - also on Test debut - or push them on to the back foot. More nip off the seam would have encouraged Shrubsole to persist over the wicket to the left-handed Bolton. Instead, after an inswinger down the leg-side and a couple of promising outswingers, she went around the wicket to try and beat Bolton through the air. A half-century stand was reached with little alarm, as Shrubsole and then Brunt made way for Kate Cross and Georgia Elwiss.

The pair cut frustrated figures, especially Brunt who, after each rejected appeal and close call, adopted her patented grimace - the sort that could turn honey sour. But rather than mope and continue looking upon the pitch like it had kidnapped a loved one (both have exceptional teapots), they adapted. Through a combination of accuracy, an attacking line and a relentless, sustained fielding effort, Australia went from 66-0 to 99-5 in the space of 16.5 overs.

Shrubsole played the part of wrecking ball with a pre-lunch spell of 5-2-8-2 that removed Villani and then, the big one, Meg Lanning. Both dismissals were identical: deliveries that swung into the right-handers before pitching, leaving them and taking the edge through to first slip. Sarah Taylor began the spell up to the stumps and, in doing so, found Lanning's normally assured footwork wanting, as the Australian captain was kept within her crease and forced to feel, inside-out, for a ball leaving her. Heather Knight, finer and with a view slightly obscured by Taylor, made easy work of tricky grabs.

A buoyed Shrubsole returned after lunch, over the wicket, to bowl Bolton through the gate with an inswinging delivery that the opener played all around. Then there was the prized-scalp of Ellyse Perry, sent back for a turgid 5, playing on to her pad and offering a simple catch to Taylor. Eventually, there was reward for Brunt too, as she removed Alex Blackwell, making her 200th appearance for Australia, lbw after a sequence of 16 balls in which the experienced allrounder could only score off three.

But as the game drew on, Jonassen's class shone through. In the evening session, after sharing a useful 77-run stand with Healy (39), she began teeing off, as a message came out to "have a bit of fun". Had a couple of situations come to pass - the addition of quick runs and Jonassen's milestone - then Australia would have declared and had a go at England under the gloom and artificial lights. Joined by another debutant, Kristen Beams, 62 was put on before the day was called to a close.

In response to Jonassen's attack, Brunt resorted to a one-day plan and ended up bowling an impressive seven overs for 14. She should have had a wicket, but Beams was dropped by Marsh at mid-off. After Jonassen ducked under a bumper from Brunt, glares were exchanged and a handful of words, too.

"I find her a bit funny," Jonassen said, with a wry smile. "If I show her I can hold my ground, she can't roll over the top of me." Already, this match is bubbling away nicely.