Danielle Wyatt saw Beth Mooney’s blistering hundred and raised a barnstorming century of her own at Manuka Oval as England took the final Twenty20 match of a series that leaves the Ashes in Australian hands.
In a last encounter thrilling for its high-scoring – the highest aggregate in all women’s T20 internationals – but also notable for signs of mental fatigue on both sides after seven matches in less than a month, the hosts seemed content with a tally of 2 for 178 built upon Mooney’s freewheeling 117 from 70 balls.However Wyatt’s response was bolder still, rattling England’s first ever T20I century from 56 deliveries in a victorious chase that was aided not only by captain Heather Knight’s typically mindful contribution, but also the dropping of no fewer than four catches by Australia.
In the progression of the women’s game to full professionalism such lapses are likely, much as the advent of domestic T20 tournaments such as the IPL and BBL exposed domestic male players to hitherto unknown pressures from crowds and television cameras.
Rachael Haynes had been happy to win the toss for Australia as they fought to win the match and so claim the multi-format contest on points, having ensured the safety of the urn in the opening T20 at North Sydney Oval on Friday. Mooney was into stride quickly, taking a heavy toll on the usually exemplary Anya Shrubsole, who was so expensive as to only be called on for three overs costing 36.
Alyssa Healy, Elyse Villani and Ellyse Perry all offered support, but it was very much Mooney’s show, backing up her equally arresting display in game one of the T20 matches. It left England with plenty to do, but a warm night under the Canberra lights and an effectively dead rubber as far as the Ashes were concerned gave Wyatt plenty of licence.She needed to show all her ability after three early wickets left England a decidedly wobbly 3 for 30, but a measure of Knight’s leadership was provided by how she did not panic, while also supporting Wyatt in her bolder approach. The dropped chances were telling in terms of mental fatigue, but they also served to let Wyatt carry on until the pursuit was all but completed.
Like Shrubsole, the otherwise excellent contributions of Megan Schutt were somewhat sullied by a last game blowout. But the final win for England and the overall result for an Australian side shorn of Meg Lanning due to a shoulder surgery meant both sides could finish the night with happiness of different sorts.