The women’s Ashes Test series began at Hove on Tuesday. I don’t know why the ECB insists on scheduling women’s tours in parallel with their male compatriots. Australia had to do it in 2001 and England toured Australia as the men’s tour was winding up in early 2003.
Australia are the holders of the Women’s Ashes (the women have even had their own urn since 1998). They’ve recently won the World Cup in South Africa, but are starting to get a bit long in the tooth. Cathryn Fitzpatrick, who last week became the first women to take 150 ODI wickets, is 37, while Belinda Clark will soon be 36 and has a new job as manager of the Cricket Centre of Excellence waiting for her when she returns home. Seven Australians are over the age of 30 (indeed, over the age of 32). On the other end of the spectrum, England have chosen a fifteen year-old girl by the name of Holly Colvin.
It seems to have been a rather extraordinary first day’s play at Hove yesterday. Clark made a second-ball duck, Karen Rolton scored 71 out of 101 for five, and Australia slumped to 115 for 7 at one point.
And then: Fitzpatrick 53 (taking her Test career run aggregate to 93), Julie Hayes 57, Shelley Nitschke 70 not out and Clea Smith 30 not out. From 115 for 7 to a stumps score of 328 for 9. Colvin, incidentally, has three wickets already.
All this means that the Peden-Archdale Medal will be up for grabs at the end of the tour. And, yes, I’ll have 3-2-1 points for each day of the two-Test series. For day one – 3 pts, Karen Rolton; 2 pts, Cathryn Fitzpatrick; 1 pt, Holly Colvin.