Australia draw Test vs England to retain Women's Ashes
Meg Lanning's side take unassailable 8-2 points lead in multi-format series
Last Updated: 22/07/19 11:08am
Australia have retained the Women's Ashes after securing a draw in the only Test of the multi-format series in Taunton.
Ellyse Perry struck an unbeaten 76 as the Southern Stars batted out 64 overs on the final day to take an 8-2 points lead in the series, and with just six points available from the remaining three T20Is, ensuring they kept hold of the trophy once more.
Heather Knight's side had declared 24.1 overs into day four on 275-9 with a deficit of 145, Nat Sciver top-scoring but falling 12 runs short of a maiden red-ball century, as England looked to set up a chance to push for an unlikely win in Somerset.
Spinner Laura Marsh claimed Australian openers Alyssa Healy (13) and Rachael Haynes (1), the latter promoted up the order in place of the injured Nicole Bolton, in the first over after lunch.
However, Perry's exceptional defence removed any worry of a complete collapse as the teams shook hands at with 17 overs left to bring an end to the match to the delight of Meg Lanning and her side.
Too little too late for attacking England
There was a clear change in the hosts' mindset on Sunday, England scoring 11 boundaries in the 24.1 overs they batted in the first session of the last day.
The loss of Sciver, bowled by Jess Jonassen having looked to play a length ball down to third man but only succeeding in bottom-edging the delivery from the spinner onto her stumps.
With England still 19 runs away from avoiding the follow-on, Marsh smoked Sophie Molineux for back-to-back boundaries and then chopped the spinner through the covers for four more to take them past the 272 they needed to force Australia to bat again.
Sciver (88), Anya Shrubsole (11) and Marsh (28) put on 76 runs in 24.1 overs before Knight declared with 15 minutes to bowl before lunch.
Perry's status rises to new levels
After making the declaration with 81 overs left in the day, England enjoyed the ideal start to the afternoon session when Marsh bowled Healy with the second ball after lunch and then trapped the promoted Haynes plumb in front.
Captain Lanning looked to settle in for the rest of the day, making 21 off 58 balls, before she struck a terrible full toss from Kirstie Gordon straight to Georgia Elwiss at cover - with the all-rounder taking a fine leaping catch to send the Australia skipper back to the pavilion.
Perry could not be moved, although the 28-year-old was lucky to escape not being given out lbw to Sophie Ecclestone to on 20 with replays showing the ball would have hit the wickets.
With plenty of time left in the day to bat, Beth Mooney (25), Jonassen (37) and Molineux (41) all made fine contributions, but it Perry that was the star, yet again, of the visitors' second innings as she became just the second Australian player - after Jill Kennare - to score a hundred and a half-century in a Women's Test match.
And, with the door firmly shut on any chance of any result other than a draw - Lanning declared to close the match with the star of the series Perry the last to walk off the pitch.
Watch the first T20I of the multi-format Women's Ashes series on Sky Sports Cricket from 7pm on Friday, July 26.