Jess Jonassen is on the verge of a memorable century on debut having rescued Australia from the depths of a day-one horror show in the one-off women’s Ashes Test.
England’s Anya Shrubsole (4-59) ripped out the Australia top order during a 37-ball purple patch either side of lunch, as Australia crashed from 0-66 to 4-87, before recovering to be 8-268 at stumps in Canterbury on Tuesday.
The tourists, who had slipped to 5-99, built around the superb debut of Jonassen, who hit a brilliant unbeaten 95 as Australia rallied to ensure honours finished even after day one.
Jonassen, the 22-year-old Queensland right-hander who was one of three players to receive their ‘baggy greens’ before the toss, hit 10 fours in her 186-ball stay, batting for a shade over four hours to thwart an England side that had been well on top after Shrubsole’s four-wicket burst.
Jonassen admitted to some nerves as she approached her first milestone, a Test half-century, but relaxed into her game as she piled on the runs with the lower order – first adding 77 with wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy (39) before a 62-run unbeaten ninth-wicket stand with Kristen Beams (24 not out) frustrated the home side late in the day.
“I’m not going to lie – it did cross my mind when I was in the 40s because that always seemed to be when I got out,” Jonassen said.
“It’s really special. Hopefully I can go out there and get at least five more tomorrow.
“(With Beams) we were just looking to have a whole heap of fun.
“Just keep things simple and enjoy ourselves – more than anything, that was the key for us.”
Australia struggled to lay bat on ball against England’s opening pair of Katherine Brunt and Shrubsole, who made the most of overcast and humid conditions with the ball swinging and nipping around off the seam.
It took England 21.5 overs to make their first breakthrough and part a half-century Australian opening stand between debutante Nicole Bolton and Elyse Villani, who edged to Heather Knight at first slip to be out for 33.
Four runs on and Shrubsole struck again, Australian skipper Meg Lanning (3) dismissed in similar fashion to be caught smartly once more by Knight.
Bolton (36), the left-handed opener who was also making her Test debut for the tourists, then had her leg stump pegged back by a Shrubsole inswinger that sailed through the gate, while Ellyse Perry nicked a defensive push into her pad, which ballooned up for England keeper Sarah Taylor to snare.
Australia then found themselves five down with less than 100 on the board when Brunt trapped Alex Blackwell lbw for seven in her 200th international appearance for Australia, before Jonassen wrested back control for Australia.
“I think the game ebbed and flowed throughout,” Jonassen said.
“It was a really absorbing game of Test cricket.
“It will be interesting to see how the first hour goes (on day two) and to see which team could potentially be on top.”