Shelley Nitschke’s 7-24, until recently the best figures by an Australian in women’s ODIs, is No.2 in Wisden’s women’s spell of the 2000s, as picked by Wisden India editor-at-large Karunya Keshav.
Shelley Nitschke 7-24
England v Australia, 2nd ODI
Chester Road North Ground, Kidderminster
August 19, 2005
It’s the summer of 2005, and Australia and England are locked in a tussle for the ages. The first Test between the sides had been drawn with the hosts seven wickets down and having kept out 95 overs, while the first ODI had gone the way of the visitors by 12 runs, a margin which would end as only the third-smallest between the teams on the tour.
Both sides are packed with legends and convincing wins are few and far between, and yet England looked on their way to one as Laura Newton and Claire Taylor carried them to 80-1, chasing 194 to win.
Australia had tried five bowlers before turning to Shelley Nitschke, with Cathryn Fitzpatrick and Lisa Sthalekar, still No.1 and No.3 in Australia’s all-time ODI wicket charts, among those to come up empty. Julie Hayes would force the opening, nicking off Taylor, and Nitschke, less than a year into her career, and with her only performances of note so far having come against Sri Lanka and Ireland, burst through it.
Rattling the stumps again and again, she claimed the next five wickets to fall, handing back to Hayes to dismiss Jenny Gunn, before polishing off the tail herself. In a flash, England had lost 48-9, slumping to 128 all out and a 65-run defeat. A convincing win had come, only it was secured by the team who moments before had been on the mat.
For Nitschke, it was a breakout performance as she established herself as Australia’s pre-eminent all-rounder of the pre-Perry age. Having come in at No.9 on this occasion, a breakneck ascent up the order saw her establish herself as an opener. She would duck out at the height of her game in 2011, ranked the No.1 all-rounder and bowler in the world at the time. And though she never again claimed an international five-for, her figures stood as the best in women’s ODIs by an Australian for 14 years until Perry put on a defining performance of her own.