A CENTURY from Australia debutante Nicole Bolton thwarted England Women’s first attempt to retain the Ashes as they fell to a 26-run defeat in the second one-day international in Melbourne.
The tourists came into the contest with an 8-0 lead on points, having won the only Test and first ODI in the points-based multi-format series.
However, Bolton’s heroics helped Australia to a decent total of 266-7 and England fell just short of their target despite half-centuries for Heather Knight, Sarah Taylor and Natalie Sciver.
England wicketkeeper Taylor felt Australia deserved credit. “The Aussie girls batted beautifully, we lost wickets at crucial times and the game got away from us.
“It was nice to get some runs, it was just a shame I couldn’t continue. Our fielding wasn’t up to scratch, we dropped a few catches, but we’re going to have to look at it as a bad day in the field.”
The hosts opted to bat first and opener Bolton was lucky to escape dismissal in just the second over when Jenny Gunn dropped a thick edge at gully.
That lapse came back to haunt England as the Australian made the most of the reprieve with a succession of fine shots on her way to 124 off 152 balls including four fours.
England’s reply got off to the worst possible start when captain Charlotte Edwards was bowled by Holly Ferling off the first ball she faced.
Lydia Greenway’s cheap dismissal then left the tourists rocking on 13-2 before 55 from Knight got England back on an even keel.
Taylor added 63 to the total but the wickets continued to fall at regular intervals and it was left to Sciver to try to rescue something with both batters and deliveries running out.
The 21-year-old made a valiant attempt to get the visitors over the line but was the last woman out for 57 as England came up short on 240.
England, who had Barnsley’s Katherine Brunt missing through injury and who still head the series 8-2, will have another chance to retain the Ashes in the third ODI in Hobart on Sunday.