England spinner Sophie Ecclestone insists hosts can overturn Ashes deficit

England spinner Sophie Ecclestone insists hosts can overturn Ashes deficit

Spinner Sophie Ecclestone says England remain confident they can regain the Ashes despite falling six points behind in the series following defeat in Saturday’s first T20 international at Edgbaston.

The four-wicket loss in Birmingham means England must win all five remaining games if they are to wrest the title back from Australia, beginning with Wednesday’s meeting at the Oval.

Ecclestone took 10 wickets as the hosts lost June’s Test at Trent Bridge and followed up with 2-24 in the T20 opener, but neither were enough to prevent the tourists opening up a six-point series lead.

England v Australia – The Women’s Ashes 2023 – First Test – Day Five – Trent Bridge
Ashleigh Gardner believes playing at major Test venues marks a step forward for women’s cricket (Tim Goode/PA)

Lose at the Oval and that gap will become unassailable with four games still to play for Heather Knight’s side, but Ecclestone insisted that, despite the odds, there remains the belief inside the camp of winning a first Ashes series since 2019.

“We’ve seen weirder things happen than that in cricket,” she said. “We’re up for the challenge, we know exactly what we need to do. We’re really not far away from them and that makes us confident going into the rest of the series.

“It’s obviously going to be a really hard task to beat the Aussies, five out of five as we go along, but we’re really confident going into tomorrow. We had the crowd behind us I think on Saturday.

“We’ve had conversations and a few meetings about how we want to go about our cricket tomorrow. We’re really confident going into it and hopefully we can pull it off.”

Around 20,000 were in attendance to see Australia pip England at Edgbaston on Saturday, following a women’s Test record crowd of 23,117 for day five at Trent Bridge.

The ECB has promised a Women’s Test will be held at Lord’s for the first time in 2026, while on Tuesday it was announced that England will face New Zealand at the home of cricket in a T20 international next July.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Ecclestone. “It’s so exciting to play in front of all these crowds. Playing at the grounds we are at the minute on Saturday nights,  I think it’s amazing to look ahead to what we’ve got going on.

“It makes me really excited to play cricket. Having these crowds at these grounds, I think we’re just really excited to get there and entertain them and hopefully inspire the next generation to play cricket.”

Australia all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner echoed the same spirit that hosting women’s fixtures at major Test venues marks a welcome step forward.

“It’s fantastic,” she said. “I’ve never played an Ashes game at either of those grounds (the Oval and Lord’s), so we haven’t played at top-tier venues.

“It’s something we all love to do. It’s something I’m looking forward to, hopefully we can come away with a win.”