A magnificent Ellyse Perry double-hundred gives Australia the ascendancy heading into final day despite England openers surviving to stumps
Australia finished day three of the first-ever day-night Ashes Test in complete control, but the day belonged to star allrounder Ellyse Perry, who made a record-breaking, breath-taking double-century.
Perry posted an unbeaten 213, the highest-ever score by an Australian in Women’s Test cricket surpassing the mark of 209no set by Karen Rolton in 2001.
The remarkable innings, which lasted eight minutes shy of eight hours, drove Australia to a first-innings total of 9-448 declared and a lead of 168. In reply, England finished the day at 0-40.
"I think we’ve certainly got the upper hand now," Perry said after play. "It took a lot of hard work to get that today. I think it ebbed and flowed a lot throughout the day especially the way England bowled and set their fields it was hard at times to score runs.
"Now that we’ve got that lead, would have been really nice to take some wickets tonight but they’ve got a long day of batting ahead.
"The wicket is starting to break up a bit, it's getting a bit slower, and I suppose the pressure is back on them.
"Certainly in our hands to win but we’ve got a lot of hard work to do it."
It was already a momentous day for Perry, who ticked off the 30 runs she needed in the afternoon session to reach her maiden international century.
While much of the spotlight will be on Perry, and deservedly so, she would be the first person to point out she couldn’t have done it alone.
Yesterday, the 73-run stand with skipper Rachael Haynes put Australia back on track after stumbling to 4-95.
Today, it was first Alyssa Healy, Perry’s best friend and Australia’s dynamic wicketkeeper-batter. Together the pair nullified the second new ball in the afternoon, combined for a vital 102-run stand and put the hosts on the doorsteps of parity.
Healy’s dismissal before tea – caught at mid-on for 45 trying to lift Laura Marsh down the ground – brought debutante Tahlia McGrath to the crease and Perry a new batting accomplice.
The seventh wicket put on 103, with McGrath looking every bit the Test cricketer except for her first ball, when she was dropped at short cover by Heather Knight.
Like Healy, McGrath fell within one stroke of a maiden Test half-century, top-edging a full toss from Georgia Elwiss to Nat Sciver at short mid-wicket moments before dinner.
The first hour of the final session was dominated by Perry.
She was cruising to 200, linking up with Jess Jonassen for 47 along the journey, but then wickets started to fall.
Jonassen sliced Marsh to point to go for 24 and then Amanda-Jade Wellington was lbw to Sophie Ecclestone. Australia 9-427. Perry 193.
The pressure was now on No.11 Megan Schutt, who has cheered by the crowd of 3,932 for every dot ball faced and the one single she scored to get Perry on strike.
On 194, with one lusty blow of 200, Perry went big. She launched Marsh over wide mid-on for six and celebrated her double century with arms aloft.
But it wasn’t six. Spectators on the boundary were signaling four before replays confirmed the ball bounced before crossing the rope. False alarm.
Perry hit a single leaving Schutt two balls to negotiate, which to the relief of the crowd and Perry, she calmly did.
The next over, on 199, Perry danced down the wicket and smashed Ecclestone for four to bring up her 200 for the second time in two overs.
She crunched another four and then the record-breaking six to move to 213, the third highest score ever in Women’s Tests.
"It was fun," Perry said."I think that’s probably the best way to describe it.
"I had an amazing time out there today batting with all the girls and just taking in what was such a special day in terms of the crowd attendance, it being the pink day three and just a really great event for women’s cricket.
"Really nice to be out there for the day and I had a lot of fun."
England’s openers then had 17 overs to negotiate and they did, just.
Tammy Beaumont was given a life, dropped on 24 by Healy, who couldn’t hold on to a bottom edge off the bowling of leggie Wellington.
England now face a tough task of salvaging anything out of this match. A draw keeps the Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes Series alive, but will need to win all three of the T20 Internationals to reclaim the trophy.
Australia XI: Beth Mooney, Nicole Bolton, Alex Blackwell, Ellyse Perry, Elyse Villani, Rachael Haynes (c), Alyssa Healy (wk), Tahlia McGrath, Jess Jonassen, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Megan Schutt
England XI: Lauren Winfield, Tammy Beaumont, Heather Knight (c), Georgia Elwiss, Nat Sciver, Sarah Taylor (wk), Katherine Brunt, Anya Shrubsole, Laura Marsh, Sophie Ecclestone, Fran Wilson
Commonwealth Bank Women's Ashes
Australia lead England 4-2
Australia squad (ODI and Test): Rachael Haynes (C), Alex Blackwell (VC), Kristen Beams, Nicole Bolton, Lauren Cheatle, Ashleigh Gardner, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa (Test only), Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington.
England squad: Heather Knight (c), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Sophie Ecclestone, Georgia Elwiss, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Danielle Hazell, Laura Marsh, Anya Shrubsole, Sarah Taylor, Nat Sciver, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield, Danielle Wyatt.
First ODI Australia won by two wickets
Second ODI Australia won by 75 runs (DLS method)
Third ODI England won by 20 runs (DLS method)
Day-Night Test North Sydney Oval, November 9-12
First T20 North Sydney Oval, November 17
North Sydney Charity Partner: McGrath Foundation
Second T20 Manuka Oval, November 19
Third T20 Manuka Oval, November 21
Canberra Charity Partner: Lord's Taverners ACT