Women’s Ashes: Meg Lanning catch, Australia vs. England at Junction Oval

Australia monstered the English with the ball and went on with the job, claiming an outright series victory in the Women’s Ashes.

Australia locked up a historic Women’s Ashes series victory at Junction Oval on Sunday by monstering their most bitter rivals, who came up well short of answers in their quest to claw back a draw in the multi-format series.

The Aussies came into the second of three ODIs with the prized urn already retained and needed to win only one of the final two matches to secure their first multi-format Ashes series victory on home soil.

Having fought back to draw the series from a similar position in the 2017-18 Ashes, and with Aussie gamechangers Beth Mooney (quad tightness) and Darcie Brown (soreness) ruled out, the English might’ve thought they were in with a chance of upsetting the locals.

They were sorely mistaken.

The Aussies grabbed the contest by the throat from the outset, turning in the kind of performance that has made them the most feared side in WODI cricket.

The eventual five-wicket win did not reflect the dominance of the Aussies, who chased England’s total down with nearly 15 overs to spare.

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Australia won the toss and sent England in to bat.

The pitch appeared to be favouring spin so captain Meg Lanning had Alana King and Jess Jonassen working overtime early on. The captain’s call paid off in a big way.

Master Jonassen (2-25) and apprentice King (1-23) were devastating, setting in motion a collapse that had the visitors in a tailspin.

Ellyse Perry shrugged off criticisms of her white ball form to take her first ODI wicket since October 2019. The Aussie veteran posted figures of3-12 from her seven overs and with the bat, was gutsy in the face of early wickets (40 off 64 deliveries).

Such was the dominance of her peers, Tahlia McGrath wasn’t required to bowl at all until the 40th over, despite being one of Australia’s most consistent performers with the ball this series.

When she was finally unleashed, McGrath claimed ridiculous figures of 3-4 to put any hopes of an English fightback to bed. The visitors were bowled out in the 46th over for a paltry 129.

“I thought it was an outstanding effort from all our bowlers today,” Lanning told Fox Cricket at stumps.

“It was nice to be able to finish them off, take those ten wickets.”

Early in the chase, Lanning fell victim to nemesis Kate Cross, who bowled her for the second time in two hit-outs. Rachael Haynes (10) also went cheaply.

But Perry steadied the ship with a patient display that ultimately proved the difference and confirmed a series victory with one match to play.

“It was really lovely to win today and to win the Ashes, which has been a great contest for us for the last couple of weeks,” Perry said.

“I think the most pleasing part is the way we’ve absorbed pressure across the series and been able to deal with that and counterpunch when we’ve needed to.”

Australia has now ensured no English cricketer, male or female, will ever think about the summer of 2021/22 without burying their head in their hands.

Catch of the day

The Aussie bowlers were relentless but acrobatic performances behind the stumps had the Melbourne crowd just as excited.

Healy must’ve thought she’d claimed top spot on the highlights reel with her rolling catch of Tammy Beaumont.

But Lanning seemed determined to out-do her wicketkeeper with Dani Wyatt on strike.

The skipper’s one-handed catch in the cordon had the alarm bells ringing for England and the spectators in a frenzy.

Reviews Crossed out

The English burned through their reviews early on so were powerless to overturn an incorrect call when their innings was on life-support.

McGrath trapped Kate Cross LBW, leaving England with only one wicket in hand.

Replays showed the delivery in fact would have cleared leg stump but Cross was forced to walk, unable to review the call.

McGrath claimed her third scalp and Australia edged closer to bowling the visitors out.

Originally published as Women’s Ashes: Australia claims historic Ashes victory after woeful English batting display