Heather Knight century helps England avoid follow-on in Ashes Test
Heather Knight and Sophie Ecclestone © Getty Images
Heather Knight ran out of partners but managed to stitch together a brilliant knock of 127 runs helping England avoid the follow-on against Australia in the Ashes Test at the Manuka Oval in Canberra on Friday (January 28). England ended Day two on 235 for 8, trailing by 102 runs.
Earlier in the day, Australia resumed their innings on 327 for 7. Katherine Brunt bowled a peach of a delivery to get Annabel Sutherland bowled early in the day. A couple of overs later, she swung one away from Jess Jonnasen, who managed to only edge it to the wicketkeeper. With that, Amy Jones completed her sixth catch of the innings while Brunt got third five-wicket haul of her Test career. The dismissal saw Aussie skipper Meg Lanning declare the innings on 337 for 9.
England didn’t get a good start with the bat, losing Lauren Winfield-Hill early, who managed to edge one delivery by Darcie Brown to the slips. The dismissal also marked the maiden Test wicket for the 18-year-old. Heather Knight joined Tammy Beaumont, who was sent back to the sheds soon after by Ellyse Perry, who managed to get one to jag back in and get a LBW dismissal. England headed into Lunch on Day two on 38 for 2.
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A few quiet overs after the break followed up with a crucial scalp of Natalie Sciver, who was dismissed for 15 by Annabel Sutherland. The Victorian pacer got one to come back sharply into Sciver, who managed to only get an edge as the ball was beautifully caught by Alyssa Healy. Sophia Dunkley came in next and played a few good-looking strokes, but her knock was short-lived too as she ended up chopping one back onto the stumps on 15, off the bowling of Perry.
As Knight started losing partners, she became busy on the crease, taking a control approach as the follow-on scare started to emerge. As Amy Jones joined her in the middle, Knight ensured she got a few boundaries, racing away to her fourth Test fifty. Jones managed to hit two boundaries off Perry, one off an edge and the other through the off-side, but her stay ended when she tried to hook a short-pitch delivery by Sutherland. The ball managed to go only as far as the inner ring and was magnificently caught by Brown.
At the stroke of Tea, debutant leg-spinner Alana King got into the action as she caught Brunt on the crease with a flatter delivery. The hosts walked into the break elated with England 120 for six. Post the break, Knight looked ever more solid at the crease, but finding a partner at the other end was even more difficult with the tail coming in.
Debutante Charlie Dean got a chance dropped when Rachael Haynes couldn’t manage to hold onto one at short-leg. However, the young spinner decided to go over the top and was caught at mid-wicket by Tahlia McGrath off the bowling of Ashleigh Gardner, dismissed for just nine runs. Anya Shrubsole didn’t last long and was caught by McGrath when she tried to smack one loopy delivery.
As Sophie Ecclestone came to the middle, she had to hang around for two things - A century for the skipper and avoiding the follow-on. She managed to see through both as Knight marched along to her second ever Test century and her first away from home. As the day headed towards the close of play, Ecclestone grew in confidence quite ably supporting her skipper. In the left-arm spinner, Knight finally seemed to find a solid partner who was able to just weather the storm with her.
Ecclestone struck three fours on her way to an unbeaten 27 run knock. She combined with Knight for a stand of 66 runs which helped England see through the day and head into the third day’s play with a slightly positive frame of mind. The skipper on the other end remained with a much satisfying century under her belt.
England 235/8 (Heather Knight 127*, Sophie Ecclestone 27*; Ellyse Perry 2/35, Annabel Sutherland 2/52) trail Australia 337/9 dec. (Meg Lanning 93, Katherine Brunt 5/60) by 102 runs.