|Women’s Ashes, one-off Test, Manuka Oval (day one of four)|
|Australia 327-7 Lanning 93, Haynes 86; Brunt 3-52, Sciver 3-41|
|England Yet to bat|
Missed chances hurt England as Australia took control of the crucial Ashes Test on day one in Canberra.
After being dropped on 14, Australia captain Meg Lanning hit 93 and opener Rachael Haynes, also put down on 44, made 86 to steer Australia to 327-7.
The hosts had been in trouble at 4-2 and later 43-3 after England made an excellent start with the ball.
Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney fell inside four overs and Ellyse Perry was caught off a top edge for 18, a rare failure for the imperious all-rounder in Test whites.
However, Lanning and Haynes capitalised on their let-offs in a dominant partnership worth 169.
They looked to be easing towards maiden Test centuries when Lanning edged Nat Sciver to slip and Haynes gloved Katherine Brunt behind three balls later.
That gave England hope of a final-session fightback but Ashleigh Gardner’s aggressive 56 and Tahlia McGrath’s 52 secured Australia’s position in the ascendency, despite the latter falling to the final ball of the day.
After a win in the opening Twenty20 of the multi-format series and wash-outs in the next two games, Australia will retain the Ashes with victory in the one-off Test.
Even a draw in this Test would leave England needing to win all three of the one-day internationals that follow to regain the Ashes.
England cause their own problems
Much of what England did on day one of this series-defining Test was good but the fear already is that their errors will cost them.
Brunt, Sciver and Anya Shrubsole found significant movement through the air in an bowler-dominated start, after England won the toss and took the aggressive option of bowling first.
Perry had scored 213 not out and 116 in her previous two Ashes Test innings and when Sciver removed her with a surprise bouncer England were well on top.
In the final session, Brunt had Haynes caught with a brilliant delivery that lifted off a length and trapped Gardner lbw, bowling in typically aggressive fashion for 3-52.
The issue for the tourists was the slack period that came in between.
In the final over of the morning session Lanning edged left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone to slip but England captain Heather Knight put down a regulation catch.
After lunch Haynes nicked a cut to second slip off Brunt only for Sciver to spill a harder catch diving to her left.
For the rest of the session Haynes and Lanning were able to score at ease, England looking flat and their bowling becoming increasingly wayward.
They fought back well at the end meaning the game is not yet gone but, with women’s Tests played over four days not five, England do not have too much time to turn the tables on their hosts.
Australia show fearsome depth
After play Lanning talked of reaching 350 before looking to bowl but the fact Australia can do so points to their impressive batting depth.
Having seen Healy and Mooney – the latter playing just 10 days after breaking her jaw – nick behind, Lanning, playing her 150th match as captain of Australia across all formats, started shakily before growing into her innings.
The right-hander was aggressive against Ecclestone, who was unusually off-colour for England, and scored freely between extra cover and gully with drives and cuts.
Even with an old ball Sciver found movement to dismiss her but afterwards Gardner and McGrath ensured England’s fightback was not too significant.
Gardner was particularly attacking, she hooked Sciver for the day’s only six, while McGrath was untroubled, as she was when scoring a match-winning 91 not out in the first T20, until she was caught behind playing a wild drive to the final ball.
Lanning also survived a tight call when on 51 when England reviewed a decision that could easily have been given.
She was hit on the forearm sweeping in front of the stumps but, with the technology showing the ball would have bounced over and the third umpire deeming it passed close to the glove but did not touch, she survived both lbw and caught appeals.
‘Wickets evened it up’ – reaction
Australia captain Meg Lanning: “We felt we had England on the ropes and then to get those two breakthroughs [Lanning and Haynes] probably evened it up a touch.
“I felt comfortable through the middle session. Before lunch I was struggling a little bit.”
England all-rounder Nat Sciver: “We probably won the first session and then got a little bit wide and wayward in the middle and brought it back at the end.
“The runs stacked up a little bit but it is a quick-scoring ground and when they got in it became easier to score.
“We are frustrated with the drops and maybe a bit of a lack of energy in the afternoon session”
Former England spinner Alex Hartley: “[The Lanning drop] was a bit of a kick in the teeth. Chances are so few and far between in Test cricket. You have to take them.
“Yes, Australia lost wickets but they have still put themselves in a strong position.”
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