Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Perry the hero in Australia's win

Australia 5 for 127 (K Blackwell 30*, Perry 29*) beat England 8 for 106 (Taylor 34, Perry 4-20) by 21 runs

Ellyse Perry confirmed herself as a star of the future, helping Australia to a 21-run win over England at the MCG. Perry batted with impressive power to guide Australia to 5 for 127 and picked up 4 for 20 as Australia strangled England's scoring in front of a crowd of more than 20,000.

The match was a curtain-raiser to the Australia-India men's Twenty20 game and the Melbourne fans who turned up early were given a taste of local success. England struggled to pierce the field and found their required run-rate quickly ballooning after Kirsten Pike's tight spell of 1 for 14 from four overs.

Any hopes of a fightback were extinguished by Perry, who effected a sharp run-out off her own bowling to remove the top scorer Claire Taylor, who made 34, and then bowled Jenny Gunn and Caroline Atkins. Perry's first wicket came from a stunning Shelley Nitschke catch; running backwards at long on she clutched the chance above her head to remove Rosalie Birch before landing heavily on her back.

Taylor rotated the strike but boundaries were elusive for England and their makeshift opener Charlotte Edwards had tried to lift the scoring early but will not want to see her dismissal when Channel Nine show a highlights package on February 10. She was bowled attempting an ugly cross-batted slog off Nitschke an over after Beth Morgan was stumped by a quick piece of work from Leonie Coleman.

Filling in for the injured Jodie Purves, Coleman was impressive with the gloves and also hurried across to short midwicket and threw to the bowler's end to have Lydia Greenway caught short for 8. England's fielding had been equally outstanding but a 56-run stand from Perry and Kate Blackwell undid much of the visitors' early work.

Perry, who is 17, launched a huge six over long on that nearly crashed into the fence and she almost cleared the midwicket rope as well, with a four off a Nicky Shaw full toss. She finished unbeaten on 29 from 25 balls in her Twenty20 debut.

Blackwell top scored with 30 after a pair of run-outs and some good catches hurt Australia. Karen Rolton was caught short for 9 in a comprehensive mix-up with Lisa Sthalekar, who went on to make 17. Sthalekar tried to hoick Rosalie Birch from outside off stump over deep square leg, where Isa Guha took a running catch.

Alex Blackwell and Nitschke got Australia away to a promising start with a 34-run opening stand that ended when Gunn at cover threw down the stumps to run-out Blackwell. Nitschke had a stroke of luck when Taylor clutched a sharp chance at slip off a Shaw no-ball, and Nitschke was bowled off the free-hit that followed.

The tour did not quite start with a Steve Harmison wide to second slip, but England will hope the early misfortunes are not an omen of things to come.