England 218 for 2 (Beaumont 100*, Knight 57, Sciver-Brunt 41*) trail Australia 473 (Sutherland 137*, Perry 99, McGrath 61, Ecclestone 5-129) by 255 runs

Tammy Beaumont‘s unbeaten century put England back in contention after Annabel Sutherland’s own hundred had put Australia on top in the Women’s Ashes Test at Trent Bridge.

It had looked as though Sutherland would own the day with her unbeaten 137, the highest score by a batter at No. 8 or lower in a Women’s Test, having reached the fastest Test hundred by an Australian woman, off 148 balls. Australia’s 473 was the highest first innings in a women’s Test and came despite Sophie Ecclestone’s maiden Test five-wicket haul, a herculean effort which ended in her 47th over when she removed last wicket Darcie Brown.

Sutherland also made an early breakthrough as Australia’s first-change bowler, after their new-ball pairing of Brown and Kim Garth had largely struggled for length and rhythm, an uncharacteristic rash of full tosses doing nothing to dent England’s efforts to overhaul their opponents.

Beaumont, off the back of an unbeaten double-hundred in last week’s warm-up match, kept the hosts in the hunt with her 100 not out as she became just the second Englishwoman behind captain Heather Knight to score a century in all three formats. That she got there sprinting for a second run after clipping Sutherland towards square leg after spending a day and a half in the field only added to the magic of her innings. Knight contributed 57 to the cause as the pair put on 115 runs for the second wicket and Nat Sciver-Brunt cruised to a brisk 41 not out.

While Brown and Garth were struggling to nail their lengths early, Beaumont edged Brown towards second slip where Phoebe Litchfield appeared to get a fingertip to a difficult chance, but otherwise accumulated nicely, punishing any bad balls to the boundary.

Sutherland entered the attack in the 10th over and struck with her sixth ball, enticing a drive from Emma Lamb with a fuller ball on off stump which sailed to Jess Jonassen, who swallowed the catch low at second slip. She bowled 13 dot-balls before conceding any runs, Beaumont dispatching a full toss to the boundary through mid-on.

Beaumont moved to her third Test fifty by pulling an Alana King delivery to the fence beyond deep midwicket and, two balls later, she swept her fine for another boundary, her 11th of the innings. Beaumont enjoyed a stroke of luck on 61 when umpire Anna Harris turned down Australia’s hearty appeal for a catch by Litchfield at short leg and the tourists declined to review, with replays showing Beaumont had struck King’s fuller ball onto her boot before it looped directly to Litchfield. Later, on 88, she just managed to evade Jonassen’s dive at slip.

Knight unleashed a reverse-sweep for four against Ashleigh Gardner, brought on at the start of the last hour as Australia searched for a wicket, and she pierced the slips with a boundary off Garth to bring up her fourth Test fifty. Gardner finally lifted Australia when she removed Knight by enticing an edge with a fuller, slower delivery and wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy did the rest.

Earlier, Sutherland and King added 34 runs to Australia’s overnight 328 for 7 and extended their union to 47 before a Lauren Bell inswinger crashed into the top of King’s off stump. Ecclestone had earlier thought she had King out lbw with her third ball of the day but she survived on umpire’s call when England reviewed, with Hawk-Eye showing that the ball was just clipping leg stump.

Sutherland expertly marshalled a 95-run partnership with Garth, the former Ireland international making her Test debut for Australia. She brought up Australia’s 400 and moved into the 90s with a punch to the boundary through extra cover off Ecclestone and, next over, she raised her century with a four through deep midwicket off Lauren Filer.

Sutherland had entered the game off the back of a century in Australia’s three-day warm-up against England A and here she played with great tempo and poise, the only half-chance she offered came shortly after reaching her ton when she edged a Filer short ball outside off stump, which flew just beyond the grasp of a leaping Knight in the slips.

Australia’s ability to build partnerships was key to their innings with Sutherland also putting on 77 runs for the seventh wicket with Gardner, while Ellyse Perry, who fell on 99, shared a 119-run stand with Tahlia McGrath after adding 48 with Beth Mooney.

After Bell’s initial breakthrough, England were frustrated. Down a seam-bowling option with Sciver-Brunt bowling just five overs the previous day because of an apparent knee complaint, debutant Filer couldn’t add to her two wickets of the previous day. It fell to Ecclestone, back into the action after bowling a mammoth 28 overs on the trot on Thursday, to eventually take the remaining wickets.

When she beat the inside edge and rapped Garth on the back pad in her 45th over, there was no free-wheeling round the outfield. Instead she slumped, hands on knees as her team-mates ran to pat her on the back. Sutherland dispatched Ecclestone over deep midwicket for six but Ecclestone was able to muster enough sprightliness to snaffle a return catch off Brown to close out the innings and end her heroic toil with an exclamation mark.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor, women’s cricket, at ESPNcricinfo


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