As Australia dangled apprehensively at 5-130 in its second innings and held on to a lead of 170, there was an exciting end to the Women’s Ashes Test.
All four results were well and truly on the map as England threatened a comeback through all time after being 8-169 in its first half.
All this works, however, on the assumption that the said test match was five days.
For reasons that continue to confuse both players and experts, it was not.
Instead, Australia quickly chased 10 wickets in just over a game.
That it turned out to be one of Testcricket’s big matches was not so much because of the game, but because of the players’ willingness to take matters into their own hands.
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When Hansie Cronje sensationally approached Nasser Hussain more than two decades ago with a scandalous idea of declaring two laps without scoring a run, the alarm bells rang.
Eventually, a sad and sad reason became apparent.
On Sunday, Australian captain Meg Lanning was forced to take matters into his own hands and compromise the very essence of test cricket – qualities such as patience, mental strength and a strong technique – to create a result.
In the end, an exciting conclusion, aided by Heather Knight’s skill and willingness to take the game on, paid off and led to one of the summer sessions.
But the test, which was played deliberately from the opening hours of the test by Australia’s Batterers and continued as it was England’s turn, should not have needed the two nations to force the case forward. After all, only two sessions were lost, not two days.
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The tragedy of this is that the test in Manuka was easily the most controversial all summer, with several momentum shifts throughout.
Australia meandered early and then returned in style to have England on the ropes.
Then the English captain Knight played one of the all-time Ashes battles, and Sophie Ecclestone a huge backstory, to bring the tourists well and thoroughly back to the test.
Australia’s second half was also a tough match, and had there been a fifth day, the result of the test would have been pretty hard to predict before both nations continued to try to create a result. Eventually, time struck both nations.
Perhaps England, too, would have withered on a hypothetical day five if they had not had to turn to one-day mode and strike with the intention of pushing hard for a result. Often, attacks can prove to be the best way to survive.
But now we are here; four of the matches in this multi-format Ashes series have ended in a draw, mainly due to rain.
The benefit of this is that Ashes remains a live series on its way into the ODI leg, starting on February 3rd.
Until then, the debate over five-day test matches for women with safety will remain in sharp focus.
The debate was renewed on Saturday when just over two game sessions were figured out due to a flood in Canberra.
Although losing so much cricket is not conducive to creating a result, a five-day match removes – in most cases – the threat of rain, which on its own forces a draw.
It must be said that every day offers 100 overs instead of 90 in the men’s fight, but that does nothing in case of prolonged rainfall.
Sunday was the sixth time across the four tests Lanning has captained his country and declared Australia’s innings.
By comparison, only Kim Hughes (from 28 tests) and Don Bradman (24) declared more times (seven) than Lanning.
The former Australian captain, Lisa Sthalekar, was one of the many who called for women’s tests to be increased to five days’ matches.
Well-known cricket broadcaster and author Adam Collins reiterated this statement.
However, Ashes-winning men captain Michael Vaughan said the lone test was proof that a four-day test can work.
But what can not be denied is that the last five test matches across the globe have all ended in a draw, while more than 60 per cent in the history of women’s test cricket have failed to produce a result.
Sheffield Shield and Country Cricket feature four-day matches, but these games also regularly feature draws and statements made.
Players on both sides of the Ashes match want an extra day added to the women’s test, which under the ICC playing conditions is limited to four.
After day three, England’s Kate Cross said the women’s fight is “ready” to make the change.
“I think we’re ready for five days of cricket now,” she said. “I think historically it was about tour lengths and women were apparently not fit enough to be able to handle five days, but I think we are ready for that now.
“I think it (a fifth day) would help with the draws that we keep getting.”
Her teammate and captain, Knight, backed five days of testing before a ball was even thrown at the Manuka Oval.
The English skipper said that given the rarity of women’s test matches, “they should be at least five days” when held.
“If we lose a day to rain – or even half a day – (we’ve seen), how hard it is in previous test matches to force a result,” Knight said at the time.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Belinda Clark Award winner Ashleigh Gardner also supported the change when asked on Saturday.
“Five days would be great,” she said.
“In the three test matches I have played, the rain has affected every single one of them, so it has made it quite challenging to get a result.
“As the cricket is currently going for the women, there is definitely room for a fifth day.”