Sophie Ecclestone won praise for her calmness under pressure after the 18-year-old took two wickets on her Test debut as England women’s bowlers frustrated Australia for long periods in Sydney.
The 18-year-old left-arm spinner returned figures of two for 51 from her 17 overs, taking the key upper-order wickets of Beth Mooney and Alex Blackwell on day two of the inaugural day-night Ashes Test.
Australia reached the close on 177 for five, 103 behind, thanks largely to an unbeaten 70 from Ellyse Perry.
The hosts struggled to keep the scoreboard ticking over until finally finding some momentum in the last session and Georgia Elwiss hailed the part played by her team-mate Ecclestone in England’s effort.
“She’s brilliant,” Elwiss said on BT Sport. “She takes the game in her stride and she’s not fazed by anything. She’s a real find for us. She’ll keep learning, she’s been a quick learner this tour, and she’s bowled beautifully today.
“If she can come back tomorrow and do the same we’ll be very happy.”
Australia, who lead the multi-format points-based series 4-2, will retain the Ashes if they win in Sydney, but Elwiss believes England’s discipline with the ball has kept them in contention.
“Test cricket is a bit of a game of chess at times,” she said.
“Anya (Shrubsole) and Katherine (Brunt) bowled really well up front with the new ball and, as that shine starts to go, it does get a bit easier to bat, but I thought we had a really good partnership with (Laura) Marsh and Ecclestone in the middle, where we tied them down and we kept it really economical.
“I think if we can do that and hold our nerve, even if there’s a partnership going, we’re still in with a chance.”
The presence of Perry is the chief cause of concern for the tourists, although she too was impressed by England’s display with the ball.
She said: “I think England bowled really disciplined and, from our point of view, we didn’t quite hit our straps in terms of keeping the momentum flowing and scoring runs a bit more freely and that put us in a bit of a hole when we lost wickets.
“It was a really tough day, it’s sort of nice to put a little bit of momentum back in that last two hours, but it was a hard day.”