England captain Heather Knight made an unbeaten 127 but did not get enough support to stop Australia from strengthening its grip on day two of the Ashes Test on Friday.

England avoided the follow-on thanks to a spirited unbeaten 66-run ninth-wicket partnership between Knight and tailender Sophie Ecclestone at Manuka Oval in Canberra. It was 235 for eight at stumps in its first innings, 102 runs behind Australia, which earlier declared at 337 for 9.


Knight’s knock impressed Australian pace bowler Ellyse Perry (2 for 35).

‘Positive day’

“That was an incredibly gutsy innings and she very much led from the front,” Perry said.

“I don’t think she gave us a chance. Also, Sophie Ecclestone provided a pretty tough challenge for us.

“It looked like we got a bit weary by the end of the day but all in all it’s been a positive day for us and hopefully after a good night’s sleep we come back and get those two wickets we need.”

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Two days remain in the only Test of the mixed format series.

Australia leads the series 4-2, and will retain the Ashes if it wins the Test. The teams will also play three one-day internationals.

England had already lost eight wickets when No. 3 Knight brought up her second Test century with a single to cover, raising her bat in the air in celebration before hugging Eccleston. Knight mixed judicious defence with a rich display of shot-making on both sides of the wicket as she picked off 13 fours and a six.

But the 31-year-old did not get much support apart from Ecclestone (27 not out), the only other batter to make more than 15.

The Australian bowlers shared the spoils, six players claiming at least one wicket.

Teenage pace bowler Darcie Brown, in her second Test after a wicketless debut, finally collected her first wicket when she had opener Lauren Winfield-Hill caught at second slip, and she later took an excellent catch at mid-on.