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Female Ashes: England’s comeback against Australia

After the Women’s Ashes series concluded in a tie, everyone wondered if England had made any progress against Australia.

This summer, Australia, home to one of the world’s top sports teams, visited the United Kingdom. They returned home with the Ashes urn but were swept in the white-ball series by England. It was the team’s first series defeat in two countries since 2013.

Therefore, how did England do what so many people said was impossible?

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Jon Lewis contributes greatly across the board

Heather Knight and her side, commanded by Stokes’ former teammate, have adopted the “Baseball” style of play to imitate the success of Ben Stokes and company, for whom the phrase has become synonymous with the English summer.

Head coach Jon Lewis, a former member of Brendon McCullum’s revolution, implemented this.

No matter how you refer to it—Bazball by McCullum or “Jonball” by Lewis—there’s no doubt they’ve changed English cricket’s face. Taking as many wickets as possible from the other team and batting aggressively yet responsibly are two of the game’s fundamental fundamentals.

For greater bowling results, proactivity is preferable to reaction. Defensive fields, lines, and lengths are not permitted.

England’s batting run rates have increased in Tests, ODIs, and T20s under Lewis, but a closer look reveals that this is as much a managed as a successful option.

In the one-off Test against Australia, England scored at a strike rate of 58.81 percent, higher than in any other Test for which statistics are available.

That’s a lot faster than England’s 39.66 strike rate in their previous home Ashes series in 2019, and it’s a lot higher than their 54.95 strike rate in the last Ashes series down under.

However, the McCullum/Lewis notion of clarity, not recklessness, was on full display as England played fewer offensive shots (43% opposed to 50%) than in Australia’s most recent Ashes Test.

For the second series in a row, England averaged over eight runs per over in the T20s, a mark they had never reached.

The 32-year-old hitter Danni Wyatt is one of the greatest success stories of the Lewis era.

Despite her reputation as a “white-ball specialist,” she got her first Test cap this summer and has seen her batting average rise in Twenty20 and One-Day International matches since joining Lewis’s side.

Her assured 43 off 25 balls in the final game of the one-day series was a major factor in England’s triumph.

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The Spin Sisters Regain Their Glory

Charlie Dean’s return and the home team’s decision to field three spinners (Dean, Sophie Ecclestone, and Sarah Glenn) coincided with England’s comeback after dropping the lone Test and the first Twenty20.

They each provide something unique, which is a major strength for England. Ecclestone bowls with his left arm, whereas Glenn uses his leg, and Dean employs his off.

England’s spinners have succeeded in all formats since Lewis took control. They have taken 31 wickets in all Ashes matches this summer, with an average of 11.27, compared to 18 at an average of 11.27 on the winter tour to the West Indies, 22 at an average of 14.68 in the T20 World Cup in South Africa (a place not recognized for being particularly suited to spin bowling), and 31 in total.

England’s spinners have been more expensive but more effective in this year’s Ashes.

England’s World Cup-winning batsman Alex Hartley observed, “It does help when you have the best spinner in the world” (Sophie Ecclestone) on your team.

The English team has changed their tune and is now supporting Sarah Glenn in One-Day Internationals.

“In the spin department, England and Australia are evenly matched, but Ecclestone gives England such an edge.”

Australia used leg-spinner Alana King in Sunday’s deciding second one-day international, a case of ‘if you can’t beat them, join them.

A series-clinching victory and performance deserving of “player of the match” honors followed.

Australia’s spin phenom Ashleigh Gardner also had a huge effect on the series, claiming 23 wickets.

The urn may now be in England if she had not arrived first. However, Australia’s lack of pace bowlers was exposed by her success.

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A ringing bell for England as fast-paced Filer shines

England’s legendary fast bowlers Anya Shrubsole and Katherine Sciver-Brunt were nearing the end of their careers as the recent era of Australian dominance began.

After their retirement, Kate Cross and Lauren Bell took the helm.

Bell, at age 22, took more wickets in the 2018 Ashes series than Megan Schutt, Darcie Brown, and Ellyse Perry combined for Australia.

Australia’s former No. 3 batsman Alex Blackwell said, “England had the big task of filling the void left by Shrubsole/Brunt,” with the pair’s long-term consistency being a crucial influence.

But I’ve seen signs that she can do it as Lauren Bell’s confidence has increased. Her diligent bowling has been a game-changer for our squad.

England’s seam attack averaged two more miles per hour in this Test compared to the previous two Tests England played, and they also used the promising new fast bowler Lauren Filer.

Blackwell said that “Lauren Filer provided some of the best entertainment during the Test” as she charged in with the supporters behind her and got Ellyse Perry out twice.

The Australian equivalent, Darcie Brown, is a “young tearaway” who hasn’t performed well so far but still has time to mature and learn self-control.

It’s terrible that Tayla Vlaeminck was hurt, but they have plenty of other players to select from. Australia needs to show more haste.

Lanning’s Effects

It’s hard to gauge the full impact of Australia’s loss of captain Meg Lanning for the series due to injury. England made up ground in a few key areas.

Her batting average of 53.51 in one-day cricket is on par with those of Allan Border, Steve Waugh, and Ricky Ponting, and she has led Australia to unprecedented success as captain.

As captain, she has a remarkable 80% win percentage, contrasting with Alyssa Healy’s 55% success rate in the same series.

Australia has lost their head coach, Matthew Mott, and a key batter, Rachael Haynes, who recently retired.

Haynes and the head coach of the England men’s white-ball teams, Shelley Nitschke, have been replaced by all-rounder Tahlia McGrath.

However, Blackwell asserts that the series’ duration is only partially attributable to Lanning’s departure.

Meg, she continued, “has a separate approach to Healy, who is incredibly fun and light-hearted, whereas Lanning is more ‘follow my example’ and sets high standards for herself and others. It seems to have worked well for her, but that’s not the deciding factor.

Australia was in a tight spot for a short period throughout the Test, but Healy’s courageous play helped turn things around.

In Australia’s second innings, she came out to bat with two broken fingers and scored 50 runs off the remaining 60 or so balls. This is a principle that Lanning stresses to his team.

Knowing they can still win motivates them to keep playing until the final ball is played. Although she is the captain and exhibits poise under fire, I see little to differentiate her from Healy.

Australia’s fielding was weaker this year than in years past when Lanning was captain, but they still won the series.

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Has England, then, made any progress?

All-rounder Nat Sciver-Brunt, who dominated for England all summer and was especially impressive in the one-day series where she scored multiple hundreds, acknowledges that much remains to be done.

Before the last ODI, Sciver-Brunt said, “I would say we’re not that far apart.”

The gap will feel better if we’re both in it for the same reasons.

They still have the upper hand over us when the stakes are high.

We have had several close victories, but they may not have been as convincing as we would have desired.

Managing high-pressure scenarios is something we’re still getting the hang of; we’re still on that learning curve a little bit.

However, Gardner, Australia’s player of the series, may get the last word.

After England’s loss to Australia on Tuesday, she commented, “England have outplayed us and played a fearless brand of cricket, and it is something we should look at.”

It’s possible that the pupils taught the teachers a thing or two.

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