England will have to come from behind if they are to retain the Women’s Ashes after Australia won the last of the three-match Royal London one-day internationals in Worcester by 89 runs.
Meg Lanning showed her class for the second successive match, following a century in Australia’s series-levelling win in Bristol last Thursday by defying a slow New Road pitch to make 85 from 89 balls – and making England pay for fluffing a run-out chance when she was still in single figures.
Ellyse Perry provided crucial support with 67 from 58 balls, continuing her consistent series with the bat, as Australia posted a total of 241-7 before dealing a huge double blow to England’s run chase by dismissing Charlotte Edwards and Sarah Taylor in her first two overs.
Edwards was caught behind from the fourth ball of the England innings, before Taylor played all around a straight delivery. When Lauren Winfield was run out, the hosts were teetering on 30-3.
Heather Knight and Lydia Greenway did their best to repair the damage with innings of 38 and 45 respectively and Brunt justified her promotion up the order with 31 from 36 balls – including the first six of the series by either side.
But after a fifth-wicket stand of 51 between Greenway and Brunt, the last six wickets tumbled for 29, three of them to the leg-spin of Kristen Beams.
The home team never really recovered, succumbing tamely to 152 all out and a defeat that leaves them 4-2 down in the multi-format Ashes – although there are 10 points still to be play for, starting with the Kia Test at Canterbury next week.
The win also lifts Australia five points clear at the top of the ICC Women’s World Championship, and seven ahead of England, who remain in fourth, with only the top four teams securing automatic qualification to the 2017 World Cup.
England had chosen to bowl first on a fresh and cloudy morning after Sunday’s rain had forced the match into the reserve day.
They made a decent start, restricting Australia’s openers to 24 in the first 10 overs before the costly lapse which allowed Lanning a second and decisive life.