England defeat Australia by two runs

Deja vu all over again? Maybe. But England’s two-run victory over Australia in the women’s one-day international at Stratford-upon-Avon on Sunday was a quite historic occasion.

It was the first time that the English women have won a game against the Australians for twelve years – the 1993 World Cup (which England won), to be precise. Jane Smit and Belinda Clark are the only current players who were present on that July day at Guildford in 1993. Clare Taylor, now forty years of age, is playing in the current one-day series but missed Sunday’s game.

It’s been a long way back for England from the dark days of 2000. I’m still not keen on their teenage selection policy, though it was not so much in evidence in Bill Shakespeareland this week. The Australian women are in danger of going through a similar crisis to the men, that is, a generational change that is perhaps overdue. Belinda Clark was out for another duck, and Cathryn Fitzpatrick got tonked for 1/61 from her ten overs, her most expensive bowling in 94 ODIs (she, too, appeared in the 1993 World Cup but missed the loss to England).

Maybe the idea was to keep the series alive until the Sky Sports’ cameras turn up for Game Five. More serious business gets under way at Worcester this Wednesday, with the Second and final Test. Daft scheduling from the ECB yet again, as the game overlaps with the men’s Fourth Test at Nottingham.

Clark has 899 Test runs at an average of 49.94. Worcester will almost certainly be her farewell to Test cricket. Is 101 too much of a fairy tale? It’s an appalling indictment of the impoverished state of the women’s international game prior to the ICC merger to think that Clark appeared in every Test Australia played since her debut in January 1991. Worcester will be her fifteenth Test in almost fifteen years.

Best of the meagre press coverage of the Stratford-upon-Avon ODI comes from Sarah Potter at The Times.

Oh, and I should give the rest of my Wilson-Snowball votes from the First Test: Day three – 3 pts, Karen Rolton; 2 pts – Lisa Sthalekar; 1 pt – Jenny Gunn. Day four – 3 pts, Arran Brindle; 2 pts – Lisa Sthalekar; 1 pt – Karen Rolton. With one Test to play, Rolton is way in front on seven points (and unlike the Peden-Archdale, I don’t give points for the 50-over or 20-over internationals).

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