Aussies defeat arch-rivals England in stunning Antigua victory

Ash Gardner with the Sydney Sixers last season - she hit a record 114 in the opening match.

Australian batter Ashleigh Gardner is looking forward to a big summer of cricket at home, after hitting the winning runs in her debut ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final in the West Indies.

Gardner captained the Australian Indigenous XI on a commemorative tour of England earlier this year and that experience must have given her confidence in her match-winning knock in Antigua.

The 22-year-old hit 33 from 26 balls in the final against arch-rivals England to claim a fourth Women’s World T20 victory by six-wickets.

Gardner claimed the player of the final award.

It was her top score for the tournament and a critical stand, after key opener Alyssa Healy fell for 22 chasing 108 for victory.

Beth Mooney was caught behind for 14 but England’s wicket taking stopped there. Captain Meg Lanning calmed the Australians at the crease allowing Gardner to strike the ball cleanly.

Earlier, England struggled with the bat. Gardner contributed heavily with the ball, removing danger players Danni Wyatt and Heather Knight, the only two England players to reach double figures.

The Muruwari woman became just the second player to score more than 30-runs and take three wickets in a Women’s World T20 final, hitting three sixes and one four.

Her innings started slowly, however. The athlete struggled to get going.

“Tonight was pretty hard batting, obviously. I was about five off about 20-balls, and thankfully later in my innings I got some balls in my zone, and I was fortunate enough to hit the boundary,” Gardner said.

Gardner dismantled England’s bowlers on a night to remember.

“I’m speechless to be honest, it was absolutely amazing,” she said.

The team are back in their Big Bash team camps in Australia, after the Women’s Big Bash League 04 kicked-off on the weekend.

Gardner has returned to her Sydney Sixers, the reigning champions, and will be a player to watch this year.

She starred in the Sixers’ season last year, hitting a record 114 in the opening match, contributing to the highest team total ever in the women’s or men’s Big Bash League competitions—4-242 off their 20-overs.

By Keiran Deck

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