England captain Heather Knight admitted her disappointment after failing to regain The Ashes from Australia, but added she and the squad feel they are closer than ever to challenging them.
Despite a heroic, unbeaten hundred from Nat Sciver-Brunt, Australia retained the Women’s Ashes with a thrilling three-run win over England in the second one-day international at the Ageas Bowl.
England needed a fourth-straight white-ball victory in order to take things to a decider on Tuesday, but Australia’s victory sees them lead 8-6 on points and even if the hosts were to triumph in the final ODI in Taunton to tie the series, Australia retain The Ashes as current holders.
Set another record chase of 283 to win, Sciver-Brunt struck a magnificent 111 not out off 99 balls but could not quite see England over the line with 15 needed from the final over.
“It was amazing to get so close. I thought Nat was outstanding the way she played,” Knight told Sky Sports. “I really liked our intent, I just think we need to execute a little better and get better in those situations.
“I thought we had it in the end, outstanding fight by the girls, but credit to Australia. Another big battle, and two brilliant teams fighting it out. There’s still an ODI series on the line.
“I was a bag of nerves in the dressing room. It’s a lot easier being out there than watching. It’s been an outstanding series, it’s got to be the best women’s series ever in my opinion.
“Unfortunately we’re on the wrong side of the result but need to get back to get the ODI series.
“We probably let them get a bit too many in the end. I thought after the way we pulled it back in the middle, we let it go in the end. (Georgia) Wareham batted outstanding at the end to turn it in their favour. I thought the score was gettable but sometimes you’ve got to accept and learn things.
“I’m disappointed [the Ashes is going back to Australia]. We really felt like we had the momentum and thought we’d win. But that’s the reality of the situation. Ultimately, we can draw the series and win the ODIs which will be a massive achievement against this team.
“We’ve played outstanding, Australia have played well and we are quite evenly matched cricket teams I think. It’s a hugely positive effort. We feel like we’re very close.”
Beaumont: We completely believe in each other as a group
England’s Tammy Beaumont, having scored 60 with the bat, told Sky Sports…
“It was an incredible game of cricket. If you’re a neutral and not us, you probably really enjoyed today.
“In the end it was quite an imposing target, it would have been another record run chase if we’d have got there. Hugely disappointed but we got pretty close.
“As a group, we just completely believe in each other. The Ashes are going home to Australia but let’s hope on Tuesday we send it home with the word ‘draw’ on instead of an outright win.
“At the end of the day, if we win at Taunton, we’ll have won two white-ball series against the best in the world from the last six years. That would certainly be an achievement.
“As has been selling out grounds like this, 12,000 here today. The atmosphere has been incredible at each and every ground.
“Maybe we’ve not come away with the prize but there’s an awful lot to be proud of with the way we’re playing at the moment.”
Greenway praises Sciver-Brunt but questions fielding
Sky Sports Cricket’s Lydia Greenway said afterwards…
“Knowing Nat Sciver-Brunt, I don’t think that hundred will mean as much to her – because she didn’t get the side across the line.
“If England had gone on to win that game, that would have been an unbelievable innings – probably the best she would have ever played.
“She is such a smart cricketer. She’s powerful and has a very good technique, but she can also do it under pressure. She just didn’t get the support she needed today unfortunately.
“My biggest frustration has been England’s fielding, that’s the big area where they’ve fallen short consistently.
“No-one means to drop catches but I just feel you have to spend the right amount of time honing your skills, and testing yourself under pressure, otherwise your technique will be found out.”