Australia's Perry holds up England to leave Ashes Test finely poised

Ellyse Perry
Women’s Ashes Test, North Sydney Oval (day two of four):
England 280 all out: Beaumont 70, Knight 62, Perry 3-59
Australia 177-5: Perry 70*, Haynes 33, Mooney 27, Ecclestone 2-51
England lead by 103 runs

Ellyse Perry starred with bat and ball for Australia on a closely fought second day of the day-night Women’s Ashes Test against England in Sydney.

Perry (3-59) took a wicket and a catch as England, who resumed on 235-7, were bowled out for 280 within an hour.

Australia started cautiously before teenage spinner Sophie Ecclestone (2-51 on debut) reduced them to 61-3.

However, Perry then took charge, finishing unbeaten on 70 as the Aussies reached 177-5, trailing by 103.

She lost a useful ally late in the day when captain Rachael Haynes (33) was trapped lbw by Katherine Brunt in the first over of the second new ball.

But with England trailing in the points-based multi-format series, and needing to win the Test to retain a realistic hope of regaining the trophy, Perry is the immovable object standing in their way.

BBC Test Match Special commentator Charles Dagnall said: “I think Ellyse Perry is the wicket which could decide the Ashes, one way or the other.”

Australia strangled by spin

Laura Marsh (centre) celebrates a wicket with Sophie Ecclestone (second right, in sunglasses)

Spinners had made the difference for Australia against England’s middle order on day one, with debutant Amanda-Jade Wellington dismissing top scorer Tammy Beaumont with a leg break which turned sharply, while Jess Jonassen had both Heather Knight and Natalie Sciver adjudged lbw at crucial times.

After Nicole Bolton and Beth Mooney had reached the tea interval unscathed against Brunt and Anya Shrubsole, England then switched to spin in the middle session, and it helped them get a stranglehold on the match.

Experienced off-spinner Laura Marsh was able to hold an end, sending down 23 overs in the day for only 28 runs, while Ecclestone – preferred to fellow slow left-armer Alex Hartley – belied her tender years, offering flight and turn.

Both openers were removed in virtually identical fashion – ironically with two of the few loose deliveries which England’s spin duo bowled all afternoon.

Having been tied down for a while, Bolton attacked a Marsh half-volley and was caught at mid-wicket, as was Mooney five overs later when Ecclestone dropped one in too short.

Ecclestone collected her second Test wicket when veteran Alex Blackwell was trapped in front, and was unlucky not to pick up a third later when Haynes, on 19, looked to be hit in front of middle stump but the umpire was unmoved.

More to follow.

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