Captain Heather Knight led by example with massive Ashes ton – Katherine Brunt

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Katherine Brunt paid tribute to the resilience of England captain Heather Knight after her century helped wrestle back some momentum from Australia on day two of the women’s Ashes Test.

Knight spent more than five hours at the crease and hit 127 not out to help the tourists avoid the follow-on and close on 235 for eight.

Australia hold a 102-run advantage going into the penultimate day in Canberra but a second hundred from the away captain in Test cricket rescued her side from 120 for six and brought back memories of her other three-figure score in Ashes red-ball cricket back in 2013.

On that occasion Knight batted for over seven hours in an epic knock of 157 but her long-serving team-mate felt this effort was arguably better.

“It was massive, massive beyond a shadow of a doubt and she was resilient as ever and has a lot of fighting spirit,” Brunt said, having completed a five-wicket haul earlier in the day.

“She is 100 per cent a leader and if you want to lead by example, that is how you do it.

“I think that was better (than 2013), there was a bit more in this pitch. Equally both brilliant and both tough situations but that is what she is made for.

“None of us thought she would go out there and not do it. We all believed she could do it, she does and Australia do too.

“That level of cricketer and that level of batter, that is what they are there to do. Unfortunately no one could back her up which was the sad thing about it for us but Sophie Ecclestone did a stellar job.”

An unbroken 66-run partnership for the ninth wicket between Ecclestone and Knight helped England’s captain reach three figures and ensure the team avoided the follow-on in a dramatic final hour.

Off-spinner Ecclestone’s score of 27 not out equalled her best effort with the bat in international cricket and Brunt is hopeful more runs can be added on day three to further reduce the deficit to hosts Australia, who declared on 337 for nine.

Brunt, who finished with figures of five for 60, added: “I think we can win from anywhere personally. We obviously set out to win, we made a good start of it but didn’t take our opportunities.

“Had we taken our opportunities they might have 100 less on the board and right now we would be set in a good position but it didn’t happen.

“We have been clawing that back since. Not an ideal start with the bat, but the fight we are showing should be an example of what it means to us and what we’re trying to achieve in this Test.

“The last hour was absolutely brilliant in terms of giving back some hope to us. We will look to reduce the deficit and put maybe a few more extra runs on the board and then come out and fight like hell again.”

Australia all-rounder Ellyse Perry, who claimed two for 35, lauded Knight’s innings, adding: “I thought she led exceptionally well from the front and that was a very classy, gritty innings from the English captain.

“We probably expect that from Heather, she is a wonderful player and it was really great to watch. It would have been lovely to get her out but she deserves a lot of kudos because the way she played was so important for her team.”

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