Tammy Beaumont’s maiden Test century helped England rebound after their understaffed bowlers were made to toil by Annabel Sutherland’s unbeaten 137 on day two of this Women’s Ashes series opener.
Beaumont rode her luck but a fine 100 not out lifted England to 218 for two at stumps, sharing a 115 stand with captain Heather Knight, who made a composed 57, after Australia had posted a formidable total of 473.
Sophie Ecclestone claimed a maiden Test five-for, a fitting reward after 46.2 overs of exertion as she took the onus with Nat Sciver-Brunt unable to fulfil her bowling duties due to a jarred right knee.
England’s premier all-rounder fielded then batted, showing no sign of the minor injury with a fluent 41 not out, although her omission from bowling was understood to be precautionary at the outset of this multi-format series.
Her unavailability meant an increased workload for her team-mates as England sought to wrap up the lower order and restrict their opponents to under 350 at Trent Bridge, but Sutherland seized upon the hosts being a bowler light on a flat pitch as Australia added 235 for the last four wickets.
Sutherland’s highest score in 33 previous internationals was 35 but she capitalised on England’s aching limbs – they were kept in the field for 124.2 overs – to record the fastest Test ton by an Australian woman off only 148 balls.
There was no keeping her out of the game as she also bagged a wicket after showcasing the enviable depth of Australia’s batting pool with the highest score by a number eight in women’s Tests.
She lost Alana King, who was bowled through the gate for 21 by a hooping Lauren Bell inswinger once Sutherland had taken her 39 in Australia’s overnight 328 for seven to a first international fifty.
The debuting Lauren Filer bristled with intent and beat the bat on a couple of occasions but the seamers were largely innocuous and Sutherland even set after the more frugal Ecclestone upon her introduction after 40 minutes, having bowled a mammoth 31 overs on Thursday – 28 of them in a row.
While she held up an end, Ireland-born Kim Garth was a capable foil on her Test bow for the expansive Sutherland, who went through the gears and required only 48 balls to bring up a second 50, reaching a maiden ton in her third match in this format with a clip through midwicket off Filer for a 12th four.
That was the first of three fours in the over, the third out of Knight’s reach in the slips, and Sutherland continued to churn out the runs after lunch with a mighty heave for Australia’s first six.
However, she ran out of partners as Ecclestone rapped Garth (22) on the back pad after skidding through her defences, ending a 95-run stand for the penultimate wicket which had carried Australia past 450, before taking a sharp caught and bowled off Darcie Brown in the spinner’s 16th consecutive over.
While Ecclestone, who finished with 46.2-9-129-5, bore the brunt of Sciver-Brunt’s absence from the attack, Kate Cross racked up 29 overs, with Filer bowling 22 and Bell 20 as Australia’s registered the sixth-highest total in Women’s Tests.
England amassed 650 in 118.2 overs in a warm-up against Australia A last week, with Beaumont notching a rollicking double century, but the situation in Nottingham initially demanded a pragmatic approach.
Beaumont had a life on four as a diving Phoebe Litchfield was unable to hang on to what would have been a screamer but fellow opener Emma Lamb was not so fortunate after Sutherland was brought on. Seduced into a drive, Lamb merely edged low to second slip on 10.
Beaumont, though, punished Australia’s seamers when they over-pitched with a few lusty drives and two full tosses from Sutherland and one from Ellyse Perry were given the treatment.
While Knight started confidently, Beaumont had a couple of moments of luck after going past 50 against leg-spinner King, who found the inside edge twice – with the first ballooning over the short leg fielder and the second thumping into the boot being before caught but Australia neglected to review.
Knight joined Beaumont in passing an untroubled 50 but was undone by a hint of turn and bounce from Ashleigh Gardner and nicked off. But Sciver-Brunt got off nought with an authoritative drive off Gardner for the first of seven fours as she upped the ante.
Beaumont moved into the 90s with an edge off Gardner that dropped short and wide of Jess Jonassen before bringing up her hundred with a clip off her hip for a couple in the penultimate over of the day.
In doing so, Beaumont became just the second woman – after Knight – to score a hundred in all three international formats.