Megan Schutt in action against England in Ashes 2015 © Getty Images
Megan Schutt in action against England in Ashes 2015 © Getty Images

London: Australia pace bowler Megan Schutt’s four-wicket haul left her side firmly in command of the lone women’s Ashes Test against England at Canterbury on Wednesday. Schutt took four for 26 in 18.4 overs — including 11 maidens — as England were dismissed for 168 in reply to Australia’s first innings 274 for nine declared. That left Australia with a substantial lead of 106 runs at stumps on the second day of a scheduled four.

Ellyse Perry made the initial breakthrough with two wickets in two balls in her first over. Lauren Winfield was caught behind by Alyssa Healy — the niece of former Australia men’s wicket-keeper Ian Healy before Perry had Sarah Taylor, one of England’s best batsmen, lbw for a duck. ALSO READ: Australia women beat England women by 89 runs in ODI at Worcester

England captain Charlotte Edwards survived the hat-trick but was powerless when, on 30, a Schutt delivery swung in through the air only to straighten off the pitch and clip off stump. The one sadness for Australia on Wednesday was that Test debutant Jess Jonassen was unable to convert her overnight 95 into a maiden century. ALSO READ: Women Ashes 2015: England Women gain advantage after 4-wicket win against Australia Women

Her nerves would not have been eased by the fact rain delayed the start of the day’s play by 90 minutes. Having added four runs to go to 99, Jonassen was lbw to a Katherine Brunt inswinger, umpire Alex Wharf taking his time before raising the dreaded finger.

It was the end of the 22-year-old Jonassen’s excellent 197-ball innings including 10 fours and prompted a declaration by Australia captain Meg Lanning. This is a multi-format Ashes, in contrast to the men’s version which saw England take an unbeatable 3-1 lead in a five-match series with victory by an innings and 78 runs in the fourth Test at Trent Bridge last weekend.

Australia’s women are currently four points to two in front after the one-day international leg of the series, and there are four points out of a remaining 10 on offer to the winners of the lone Test. Schutt’s side are now well-placed to take a huge stride towards regaining the Ashes by winning this match.

“We wanted to hit our bowling lines today, play some boring cricket and defend our 274 as hard as we could. We went out there with that plan and it came off,” Schutt said. Meanwhile England’s Lydia Greenway added: “We’ll have to go out tomorrow feeling fresh and look to take early wickets. If we can make sure we’re disciplined with the ball then you never know how they might bat.”