The football season ended and sports fans kind of went hmmm, what next?
Thankfully, Cricket Australia had the bloody good sense to start the women's Ashes a full month ahead of the men's version. And what a start to the international cricket summer. And what a finish. And what excellent crowd support at the sold out Allan Border Oval.
The full scorecard of the first One Day international is here, but what you need to know is that England made 9/228 in their 50 overs. Most people thought was about 20 runs short of a defendable target, and so it proved.
Australia got there with eight wickets down and five balls to spare, mostly through the super cool work of vice captain Alex Blackwell -- the 31-year-old, who like so many of our great male players (Tubby Taylor, Michael Slater, Geoff Lawson), hails from Wagga Wagga.
The world's most popular cricket site ESPNCricinfo.com describes Blackwell as "as solid, unhshowy middle order batsman", which sounds a little like a back-handed compliment. But there times when "solid and unshowy" are exactly what's required, and one of those times came on Sunday afternoon.
Australia was 4-87 and in a spot of bother when Blackwell came to the crease. But her unbeaten 67 off 86 balls held the innings together, while Ashleigh Gardener provided the fireworks with her power-hitting.
This was not just a win for Australia. It was also a win for Channel 9, who screened the match on Gem. The national combined peak audience was 424,872, which was a lot higher than usual for a regular Sunday afternoon in what is traditionally regarded as the sporting off-season.
A Nine spokesperson told HuffPost Australia that the network plans to screen at least one of the upcoming matches of the women's Ashes on the prime channel (as in, Channel 9).
So Australia won and Nine won. You know who else won? The first ever sell-out crowd at a women's international, that's who. After the game, autographs were in hot demand.
And the team duly obliged. Because #winners.
Found! pic.twitter.com/dNgedmdJKq— Australia Women 🏏 (@SouthernStars) 22 de outubro de 2017
A reminder that unlike the men's Ashes which is decided over five Tests, the women's Ashes is decided by points accrued over a One Day and T20 series plus one Test. The next match is this Thursday and you can see the full schedule here.