Sophie Ecclestone puts England on front foot in women’s Ashes Test

Adam Collins
Out: Sophie Ecclestone celebrates the wicket of Beth Mooney: Getty Images

It was advantage England by the close of Day Two in the women’s Ashes Test at North Sydney Oval as they reduced Australia to 177 for five.

Teenage spinner Sophie Ecclestone tucked into Australia’s top order, after helping boost England’s total to 280. Australia’s key batter — Ellyse Perry — remains at the crease after a masterclass of patience.

She will resume on 70 not out, alongside wicketkeeper-bat Alyssa Healy, meaning England need wickets in the first session. But a lead of 103 gives them every opportunity.

Australia openers Nicole Bolton and Beth Mooney ground their way to 24 and 27 respectively. But both were caught at midwicket when trying to attack, Mooney giving fellow debutant Ecclestone her first Test wicket.

Ecclestone then trapped Alex Blackwell lbw for six and should have had captain Rachael Haynes the same way but for a poor decision. After Elyse Villani fell to a brilliant Sarah Taylor catch behind the wicket, Haynes and Perry rebuilt from 95 to four with a 72-run partnership but the new ball late in the evening session was decisive.

Haynes had another life when she split first and second slip, then the next delivery Katherine Brunt struck pad before bat. The captain went for 33 and England had worked halfway through Australia’s order.

England’s final three wickets fell an hour into the first session but they added 45 runs to their overnight score. Anya Shrubsole clouted a quick 20, her highest Test score from the bottom of the order, but her wicket of Villani at the other end of the day was more important.