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Australia v England at Newcastle
3 Feb 2000 (Rick Eyre)

England whitewashed as Clark and Mason save best for last

The England Women's sorry two-week sojourn in Australia reached its dismal climax at the No.1 Sportsground, Newcastle today as they were totally and utterly demolished by an Australian outfit just warming up for the weekend's encounter with world championship New Zealand.

Australian captain Belinda Clark and new-ball bowler Charmaine Mason smashed records as Australia executed their biggest win of all time against England, by a margin of 220 runs.

Australia completed a 4-0 clean sweep of the one-day series today, a series in which the gap between the two teams has gotten gradually wider - in chronological order: 86 runs, 87 runs, 10 wickets and 220 runs.

An appreciative crowd of about two thousand - the biggest crowd at a women's cricket match in Australia for many years - were not disappointed as they saw Australia rack up 299 runs for the loss of two wickets in fifty overs, with Belinda Clark, who was born in Newcastle, scored 146 not out. Victorian pace bowler Charmaine Mason took 5/9 from six overs - the best bowling figures ever by an Australian woman in one-day internationals - as England disintegrated in the space of forty overs to be all out for just 79.

Remarkably, considering the enormous gap in talent and ability between the two teams, England have, in each of their four matches of this series, remained at the crease for forty overs or more. Not that they have scored anywhere near enough runs to show for it.

Clark, whose 59th ODI appearance and 42nd match as captain both broke Australian records today, won the toss for the fourth time in the series and elected to bat first in ideal summer conditions. Jo Broadbent opened with Clark in the absence of the injured Lisa Keightley, and the pair immediately went on the rampage and added 179 together for the first wicket (a record opening stand by Australia) before Broadbent drove Lucy Pearson to the waiting hands of Karen Smithies for 85.

Clark looked totally in command as she tore apart an English attack who seemed to have no clue today. She played many lofted shots over the field which would have gone for fours on an outfield without so much sand underfoot. The crowd erupted in applause as she took a single of leg-spinner Kathryn Leng in the 38th over of the innings to bring up her fourth one-day international hundred.

Left-handed Western Australian Cherie Bambury kept pace with her captain and was on 53 from 54 deliveries when she popped a catch to Smithies at mid-off from the bowling of Clare Taylor on the second-last ball of the innings. Both the team total of 300 and Clark's individual 150 narrowly went begging, as Australia finished their fifty overs on 2/299 - their highest total against a "major" women's cricketing nation (ie, England, India, New Zealand, South Africa). Clark's 146 not out was, likewise, the highest score in women's ODI's involving the five major international teams.

There's not much that can be said for the England bowling in this game. Melissa Reynard (0/78 from ten overs) had an especially forgettable day, but it must be asked why captain Smithies allowed her to bowl her full complement - especially when promising left-arm spinner Dawn Holden only bowled four.

A target of 300 was always going to be beyond England's capabilites. The dilemma was in deciding whether they would last their full fifty overs, and/or whether they could make even half of Australia's total. Unfortunately, England failed to achieve any of those undemanding expectations.

Karen Smithies, whose batting in this series has evoked memories of Gavaskar's immortal 36 not out in the 1975 men's World Cup, did not get a chance to give a repeat performance today. Before opening her account she hit a well-timed pull shot off Charmaine Mason. Well-timed except for one thing... it was the simplest of catches for Olivia Magno at square leg.

England's run-chase was already in ruins at 1/6 in the sixth over when Mason, who had taken nine wickets in the last two games, struck twice off successive balls to bowl Barbara Daniels (2) and Charlotte Edwards (0). If Fitzpatrick is the fastest bowler in the Australian team, Mason has a quickish pace combined with deadly accuracy.

Connor defended the hat-trick ball but Mason took her third wicket in six deliveries to bowl the left-handed opener for seven - England 4/11, and Mason 4/2. The fifth-wicket stand stretched into the 25th over of the innings before Laura Newton fell to off-spinner Avril Fahey. Newton was the top scorer of the England innings with just 22.

As in Bowral on Tuesday, every Australian bowler could feel proud of their performance in this match. Cathryn Fitzpatrick finished with the magnificent figures of 10-7-10-1, her wicket coming from a return catch by Melissa Reynard (6).

With the score at 9/74, Mason was brought back in to the attack to bowl out her final five overs, but it took just one to finish the match. When she removed Lucy Pearson's off-stump, England were all out for 79, and Mason had claimed her fifth wicket of the match - her second five-fer in her last three appearances. Her figures, 6-3-9-5, are the best by any Australian bowler in women's one-day internationals, beating Jo Broadbent's 5/10 against New Zealand at Lismore in 1993.

The margin of victory, 220 runs, beats the biggest previous runs margin between the two teams when Australia won by 138 runs in Melbourne in 1985. Australia have now won their last ten ODI meetings with England.

England, with six losses from six matches in the past nine days in Australia, now move on to New Zealand where they will play one practice match and five ODI's. In the meantime, Australia and New Zealand - already the two clear favourites to meet in December's World Cup Final - will play out the annual three-match Rose Bowl series at suburban grounds in Melbourne starting this Sunday. That will be a much stronger contest for the Australians.

For the English, the past week and a half will have been a demoralising experience and suggests that women's cricket in England must go back to the drwaing board, even if the miraculous happens in New Zealand. One fundamental change that is needed is a higher intensity of national competition, along the lines of the Women's National League in Australia or the State Insurance Cup in New Zealand. The current premier league and county championship structures in England are not even remotely adequate.


Date-stamped : 03 Feb2000 - 10:24