England’s unlucky campaign to regain the Women’s Ashes ended with a 27-run defeat in the first ODI with captain Heather Knight insistent England have closed the gap on all-conquering Australia.
Australia won the first of three one-day games to take an 8-4 lead in the multi-format series and ensure they cannot be beaten as they retained the Ashes for a third time.
England saw two matches in their preferred T20 format washed out before having to settle for a draw in the Test and were not able to chase down Australia’s total of 205 in Canberra.
Knight said: “I thought we bowled outstandingly and we were actually really unlucky. We really took the game to them and bowled perfectly to the plan, we adapted to the pitch.
“I thought Kate Cross, Katherine Brunt, Anya Shrubsole at the top were all outstanding and then we just kept losing wickets in that chase.
“You’d back yourself to chase that. I think the Aussies bowled really well but we just couldn’t string that partnership together and kept losing wickets and I guess in the three games that we’ve played we haven’t been able to string batting and bowling together and put in that complete performance.
“I’m proud of the way the girls fought, the lower order kept is in it a little bit and kept the hope life but unfortunately the Ashes have gone.”
Beth Mooney, playing with a broken jaw, frustrated England’s bowlers hitting 73 off 91 before being dismissed with the final ball of Australia’s innings as the home side posted 205-9.
Kate Cross led the way with figures of 3-33 including the wickets of Meg Lanning and Alyssa Healy as Katherine Brunt mopped up the middle and lower order on her way to 3-40.
In reply, teenage sensation Darcie Brown dismissed Tammy Beaumont and Knight in consecutive balls as she claimed 4-34 before Jess Jonassen took the final wicket of Cross to ensure the Ashes stay in Australia for another 18 months.
Knight added: “We’re still in with the chance of drawing the series which has obviously got to be our focus now.
“I think we’re really not that far away, we’ve gone toe-to-toe with them, I think our mentality in the series has been really good.
“We haven’t been able to quite get over the line, which is a shame, but we believe we’re good enough to beat them.
“When you let a couple of things slip, they are the sort of team that can make you pay for it and not give you a second chance.”
England’s frustrating tour began with the T20s brought ahead of the Test reducing the effectiveness of their pre-Christmas training camp in Oman.
Knight and her side were forced to receive throwdowns from family members as they isolated prior to travelling to Australia before the weather intervened to washout two T20s and disrupt the only Test.
The two sides will now head to Melbourne to play the final two ODIs as they become de facto warm-up games for next month’s ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand.
Knight added: “There’s bound to be a bit of disappointment. I think we can be proud of some of the stuff we’ve done, but ultimately, we’ve got to start now trying to win games.
“We’ll be disappointed and try and reassess and go again for the next game and turning things around pretty quickly.
“Obviously, with the World Cup coming up, our focus turns a little bit to that as well and being in the best shape possible to try and be successful out in New Zealand.”