Rain, four-day rule ruins Canberra Test | Lithgow Mercury

The case for women’s Tests to receive parity and be extended to five days has been made abundantly clear with rain washing out most of Saturday’s play and ruining the Ashes contest in Canberra. Bad weather set in at the worst possible moment on day three, with Australia 2-12 and the hosts leading by 52 just before lunch in their second innings. But instead of the Test shaping as one of the best in the women’s game in years, it will almost certainly end in a day-four draw unless England pull off a miracle. The likely no-result will be a dour end to a Test that has swung regularly, with England at one stage battling to avoid a follow-on before fighting back. The tourists were 8-169 in reply to Australia’s 9 (dec) -337, before Sophie Ecclestone joined captain Heather Knight in a 100-run stand to help England to 297. Knight finished unbeaten on 168, the second highest score by a female in a Test in Australia and making her the only woman in Ashes history to have two innings of 150-plus. England veteran Katherine Brunt ensured Alyssa Healy would finish the match with a pair and also claimed Rachael Haynes for four to leave the match in balance. But ICC playing conditions that limit matches to four days means the fightback could amount to nothing. Calls have echoed in recent years for women to be able to play five-day tests like their male counterparts, with the economic problem no longer as much of an issue as they were in previous eras. While there is an argument four-day games encourage attacking play with 100 overs per day, one rain-soaked afternoon often kills off any result. A similar fate also awaited Australia’s wet Test against India earlier this summer. “In the three Test matches that I’ve played, rain has affected every single one of them,” Australia star Ashleigh Gardner said. “The way that cricket is going at the moment for the females there’s definitely room for a fifth day.” More than 60 per cent of women’s Test matches have resulted in draws, including the most recent four played. Knight suggested more flexibility should be given to boards to determine the length of Tests, with a preference to five-day games when only one is played each year. “I think five-day cricket would be slightly better,” she said. “The last two Test matches we’ve had in women’s cricket have been affected by rain and actually an exciting finish has been missed.” Knight is also insistent England can still win the Test, given a draw will leave Australia with one hand on the Ashes. England would need to whitewash the ensuing three one-dayers to claim back the trophy, with just one win for Australia enough to retain the Ashes as current holders. A Test win for England, however, would give them the lead in the multi-format series 6-4, with two points available in each of the 50-over contests. Australian Associated Press


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