By Priya Nagi: Ellyse Perry fell just short of scoring her third Test century as England fought back against Australia on the first day of the Ashes Test at Trent Bridge on Thursday. Australia reached 328/7, with Annabel Sutherland unbeaten on 39 and Alana King on seven. The match saw a momentum swing between the two teams after Australia chose to bat first.
Australia had a strong start and were cruising at 215/3 close to tea when rain interrupted the game. After the resumption, England's Sophie Ecclestone and debutant Lauren Filer took three quick wickets, including the dismissals of Healy for a duck and Perry for 99. However, Ashleigh Gardner and Annabel Sutherland managed to regain some momentum for Australia, taking the team past the 300-run mark before stumps.
Ecclestone showcased her skills as the world's premier spinner, bowling 31 overs and ending the day with figures of 3-71. Filer, who was a surprise inclusion in England's Test squad, troubled the Australian batters with her pace and bounce, taking two important wickets, including that of Beth Mooney for 33 and denying Perry her century.
Promoted to No.3 for this Test, Perry made her intentions clear from the start, dispatching Ecclestone's first ball to the boundary. She formed a crucial partnership with Tahlia McGrath, helping Australia gain an advantage in the middle session. McGrath played some excellent shots and reached her second Test fifty off just 67 deliveries. However, Ecclestone spun one past McGrath's defenses, dismissing her for a career-best 61 and ending their partnership of 119 runs.
Meanwhile, Perry continued to dominate against the red-ball, punishing loose deliveries and handling Ecclestone's challenges. Her innings was interrupted by rain when she was on 82 and Australia was at 213/3. After the rain delay, Ecclestone struck twice in an over, dismissing Jess Jonassen for 11 and bowling Healy for a duck. England fought their way back into the game, reducing Australia to 226/5.
Earlier in the day, Healy won the toss and chose to bat, a decision that pleased both captains as England's Heather Knight revealed she would have made the same choice. Debutant Phoebe Litchfield looked comfortable at the top of the order but was given out lbw on 23. Mooney, who had a few lucky escapes, eventually edged Filer to gully, leaving Australia at 83/2.
The Ashes Test marks the beginning of the multi-format series, with four points available for this match and two points for each of the three ODIs and three T20s. Australia have held the Ashes since 2015.