England have their first Ashes' points and their first ICCWC points on the board, after a 20 run (D/L) victory over Australia in the third ODI.
Using the same pitch as used for the second ODI, it was almost inevitable that whoever won the toss would opt to bat, and would expect to score around 300. Heather Knight called right, and after the early loss of Winfield, and some early gasp-inducing high jinks from Sarah Taylor, a serious score always looked on the cards for England - in fact their final 284/8 might have been a slight disappointment to them.
Winfield's form in 2017 is quite troubling, but to be honest England have no-one sitting in the wings to replace her at the top of the order. Her scores in 2017 have been - 26, 24, 1, 11, 11, 20, 24, 48, 2, and 0. That is 167 runs in 10 innings - an average of 16.7. Her overall career average is 23.42 in 35 innings. I am not convinced that her batting style suits the opener's role, but with whom do you replace her? I have always been a fan of Amy Jones's batting, and the enigma that is Danni Wyatt. Building towards the T20 World Cup perhaps it is time to look at some other options at the top of the order, if not on this tour, then pretty soon.
Sarah Taylor is, well....Sarah Taylor. She is like the naughty child, who sits in the middle of a messy room and smiles innocently at her exasperated parents. Quite why she thought stepping across her stumps to try and ramp the third ball of her innings when England were on 2/1 was a good idea was beyond the rest of us, but it made sense to her. She missed it, but she didn't get out and she went on to dominate a 122 run stand with Tammy Beaumont that put England in a great position at the half-way stage. Her exit to a tame half-tracker leg cutter from Megan Schutt, who seems to find ways to take wickets even when she doesn't deserve to, was another deep sigh moment, but we still love her. The unnecessary and inappropriate send-off from Schutt was less endearing.
As they neared 200 England wobbled losing Beaumont, Sciver and Wilson (another no DRS victim!). In days of yore it would have been the start of an England collapse. But Heather Knight, who played beautifully, steered the lower middle order through the last 12 overs accumulating 83 runs with Brunt, Gunn, Shrubsole and Ecclestone (who scored just 29 of them). It was the difference between England reaching 284 and them reaching 240. It was a winning knock.
But it looked iffy for a while. Fran Wilson will have been mighty relieved that England got over the line, as her drop of Alyssa Healy on 4 cost England another 67 runs and allowed Australia to put on 118 for the first wicket at a decent rate. [follow this link to watch - sorry Fran!]
Healy has relished the chance to open the batting, and England have failed to negate her up-tempo batting style. She might not get the job in the Test Match, but she undoubtedly will in the T20s, so England will need to find a plan for her at the top of the order - perhaps spin is the answer? Her demise brought Perry to the wicket, who had bowled all 10 of her overs on a hot morning, and fielded at deep mid-wicket on both sides of the square, where she did another great job, but will have taken a lot out of herself. She looked tired with the bat and with Nicole Bolton also unable to break the shackles, England started to exert some pressure. Bolton, Perry and Villani all holed out going straight and with Australia needing 104 off 15 overs - the rate was up to almost 7. It never got lower as Sciver, Shrubsole, Hartley and Gunn squeezed the life out of the Aussie innings. Australia continue to ask an awful lot of Perry.
And so the focus changes now to the four day day/night pink ball Test (starts 9th November). The Aussies lead the series 4-2, so if they win the Test then the Ashes will be theirs. England will want to win and take the four points on offer, but they would take a draw, although that would still leave them needing to win all three T20Is!
It should be a great Test. Let's hope the wicket is a bit better and quicker than the last Test between the two sides at Canterbury. I expect both sides to play positive cricket - ie not traditional Test cricket. That is not a game that suits either side. After all they hardly ever play multi-day games. It should be fascinating, but, Aussie or England supporter, prepare to be both entertained and exasperated all in good measure.