KATE CROSS: What better advert can there be for women’s Test cricket than the recent four days in Canberra, that’s why we all want to play so much more of it… now we need to win all three ODIs so England can regain the Ashes
When I walked out to bat with just 13 balls of England’s Ashes Test remaining all four results were possible which says everything about that dramatic last day in Canberra.
Not many teams would have taken on a chase of 257 in 48 overs on the last day of a Test and the fact we came so close before settling for the draw says everything about the bravery of this England side.
It was agonising for us to get so close without pulling off what would have been a record win and it still feels more like a defeat than a draw. I walked off having done my job in not getting out yet all the girls were sad which sums up our attitude to the chase.
Kate Cross (right) has reflected on England’s thrilling draw with Australia in the sole Ashes Test
What must be remembered is the Ashes would have been over had we lost that last wicket so our approach should be taken in the context of the multi-format series. We kept our hopes alive and we did it by going toe to toe with Australia.
I thought my Test was over after we finished bowling but I was fully aware that if I was involved again I would need to play a big part in either winning or saving it.
Then when Heather Knight got out I said to her ‘what happens if I go out there with four runs needed and two balls left? Do you want me to go for it?’ She just laughed and said ‘whatever you decide we’ll back you.’ That scenario so nearly came true.
When I did go out as our No 11 with 13 runs needed our coach Lisa Keightley told me to make sure I saved the Test rather than go for the runs which made it easier for me. I didn’t have to make that decision myself.
But what did go through my head when I joined Sophie Ecclestone in the middle was what Jimmy Anderson had said when he came on the podcast I do with Alex Hartley.
Jimmy told us the worst part about batting No 11 in situations like that is feeling you have lost the game for your team when you are last out. But I thought to myself ‘you can’t think that way. You have to park that and just get on with the job.’
Cross celebrates with Sophie Ecclestone after they both kept their wickets to deny Australia
I passed the message on to Sophie that we had to save the Test rather than try to win it but after that our conversations in the middle were quite minimal. She just told me to back myself and helped me count down how many deliveries were left.
We even had to debate whether to take a single off Annabel Sutherland’s final ball in the penultimate over while we were running towards each other.
That’s when I knew I had taken on the responsibility of facing the last six balls but I don’t think of myself as a No 11 and I’ve worked hard on my batting so I just backed myself. If I’d got out I would have felt horrendous but I knew no-one would have blamed me.
It did feel claustrophobic when all the Australian fielders surrounded the bat, especially with Alyssa Healy in my ear telling me there were runs to be had.
And with my old team-mate at Brisbane Heat Jess Jonassen telling me the ramp shot was on because she knows I like to play it. They even put a fielder there but could you imagine if I’d got out attempting a ramp? As it was I felt comfortable defending even if I did waft at a couple of balls!
Cross admits it did feel ‘claustrophobic’ when all 11 Australian players surrounded her batting
When we process what happened over the four days there will be much for us to take from this Test. To think that Sophia Dunkley could go out there in just her second Test and have the audacity to hit bowlers back over their head for six and get us ahead of the rate.
And we had got into that situation despite at one stage looking as if we would have to follow on let alone push for victory. That we got so close to their first innings total in the first place came down to one of the great innings in that unbeaten 168 by Heather.
And there was another great performance from Kathrine Brunt in taking a five-for in the Australian first innings. These are the special moments Test cricket creates and that’s why we all want to play so much more of it. What better advert can there be for that than these four days in Canberra. And we produced what we did with so little preparation.
You can talk, too, about whether we should play four or five day Test cricket but the key is the pitches we play on and this one at the Manuka Oval had everything you need.
Now we need to win all three one-day internationals, starting back here in Canberra on Thursday, to win the Ashes and we believe we can do it. It’s like a World Cup now – lose and we are out – but if we win the first one it will be 6-6 on points with two to play and the fairytale Ashes finish for us will still be very much on.
Attention now turns to winning the three ODIs in this series so England can regain the Ashes