Women’s Ashes 2022: Heather Knight, Katherine Brunt shine before rain halts England’s ascendency

Rain halted England’s march towards ascendency on Day Three of the Women’s Ashes Test at Manuka Oval in Canberra on Saturday. Heather Knight hit her career best of 168 not out before England were bowled out for 297, giving Australia a lead of 40. Katherine Brunt then breathed fire, reducing the hosts to 12 for 2 in 4.5 overs before heavens opened up and prevented further play.

Resuming from 169/8 on day two, Knight and Sophie Ecclestone extended their ninth-wicket partnership to a century stand before the latter was trapped lbw by Tahlia McGrath for 34, after being dropped twice by Australia captain Meg Lanning at slip in the first over of the day and then on 33.

Knight and No. 11 Kate Cross cracked a few boundaries before Cross pulled and the top-edge went to long leg, ending England’s innings at 297 and giving Ellyse Perry her third wicket of the innings.

With a slender lead of 40, Australia came out to bat but were rocked early on by Brunt, who had taken 5/60 in the first innings. The 36-year-old took out wicket-keeper Alyssa Healy for a pair with the one moving away a little and had some bounce as well.

Just before rain disrupted the action, Brunt had another wicket as Rachael Haynes lobbed a catch to Tammy Beaumont at forward short leg. The wicket took Brunt’s match haul to seven wickets and overall, a half-century of scalps in Test cricket.

With rain refusing to relent, the action on day four becomes all the more important for both teams. The washout of action due to rain means that the debate over extending women’s Test matches to five days, on par with men’s Test cricket action, will be discussed and debated again.

Brief Scores: Australia 337/9 dec and 12/2 in 4.5 overs (Katherine Brunt 2/4) lead England 297 all out in 105.5 overs (Heather Knight 168*, Sophie Ecclestone 34; Ellyse Perry 3/57, Annabel Sutherland 2/62) by 52 runs

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