In this week’s episode we discuss:
* The cancellation of England’s tour to Pakistan
* England players in WBBL
* England v New Zealand & Australia v India
* The drama of the RHF Trophy final
* The batter-batsman debate
In this week’s episode we discuss:
* The cancellation of England’s tour to Pakistan
* England players in WBBL
* England v New Zealand & Australia v India
* The drama of the RHF Trophy final
* The batter-batsman debate
England finally produced the performance we’ve been waiting for all summer, on the last day of the English women’s season in Canterbury – posting over 300 for the first time since the Pakistan series in Kuala Lumpur in December 2019.
Tammy Beaumont led the way with her 9th international century (8 in ODIs and 1 in T20s) after putting on 95 for the first wicket with Lauren Winfield-Hill, who made 43 – her highest score since 2019. Winfield-Hill’s recent record is unspectacular from one perspective – she hasn’t made an international 50 since 2016; but she nonetheless averages 29 in ODIs this summer. To put this in perspective, it is only 10 less than Beaumont, and 7 less than Heather Knight; so the bottom line is that although Winfield-Hill hasn’t made a big score, she has still been pretty consistent since her comeback.
But the key to England’s huge total today was not Beaumont, who played the anchor role and finished with a Strike Rate of “only” 90, but the middle-order, which finally clicked… and clicked biggly.
It started with Nat Sciver, who has struggled for form against New Zealand this month, but came in today with an obvious intent to play positively, and hit 39 off 38 balls – a Strike Rate of just over 100, showing that there were runs to be made here, despite the huge boundaries. Amy Jones followed Sciver to the crease, and upped the ante again, making 60 off 46 balls at a Strike Rate of 130. Then finally with Sophia Dunkley (33* off 25) also going well at the other end, Danni Wyatt turned the volume up to 11 with 43* off 20 balls – a Strike Rate of 215. England added a massive 96 runs in the final 10 overs – by far their most productive 10 over phase of the series – leaving New Zealand with a mountain to climb.
And climb it, they could not. Only Hayley Jensen, coming in at 8 with the game already far gone, was able to hit at over 100, as England’s bowlers just looked to keep it tight and let the massive total do its work, with the White Ferns bowled out for 144, over 200 runs short.
New Zealand will fly home disappointed with their tour, having lost both series against an England side which looked tired at times after a long domestic season. But there are some positives they can take into the lead-up to the World Cup, where they will have the advantage of home soil. Hannah Rowe was the joint leading wicket-taker in the ODI series, with 10 wickets alongside England’s Charlie Dean; and Lea Tahuhu also performed well, including her spectacular 5fer at Leicester. Both could be key players in the World Cup; when they will also of course have Amelia Kerr back in the XI.
For once, it is the batting that will be a worry. Amy Satterthwaite, Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates all showed glimpses on this tour of why they are some of the most revered hitters in the game; and Maddy Green had a good day in Leicester; but overall there simply weren’t enough swallows to make a summer for them with the bat. This doesn’t mean it can’t all come good for them at the World Cup, but it will be a concern.
As for England, they can go out tonight and celebrate the end of a long summer, with their record this calendar year across all formats, including the tour of New Zealand, reading an impressive: Played 21; Won 15; Lost just 5.
Now (finally!) the players can take a holiday and get some sleep, before they regroup in the autumn to prepare to face Australia in the Ashes at the beginning of next year. Next year sounds like a long time away, but there are only 3 months before they’ll need to fly out to quarantine ahead of the series, and that’ll go all too quickly – 2022 is, if anything, going to be an even longer year; and with 3 huge trophies to play for – the Ashes, the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games – England will need to be at their very, very best to challenge for all of them.
Lastly on a personal note, that’s all the live cricket we’ll be covering this year too – and probably for a bit longer than that, as it looks very unlikely we’ll be able to get to Australia or New Zealand due to… The C Word (COVID)! It has been another brilliant summer though, shared with this fantastic crew in the press box (plus a shout out to Rick ‘Cricket Man Wales’ Walton)
… as well as with everyone who follows us on Twitter and reads the site – your interactions, comments and replies are what keeps us going, so a big thanks to YOU for your support, and… we’ll see you back here soon!
At the mid point in the English summer, half way through the Hundred, the twin “Southern” teams – Brave and Vipers – were, if not “on top of the world”, on top of all the bits of it that mattered: in first place in the Hundred, leading their group in the Charlotte Edwards T20 Cup; and at the top of the table in the 50-over RHF Trophy.
But disappointment followed in both the Hundred, beaten by Oval Invincibles in the final at Lords, and the CE Cup, knocked out in the semi-final by Northern Diamonds.
And with 10 overs to go in the RHF final, it was looking like a hat trick of finals day defeats was on the cards – Vipers were 126-7, still needing 58 runs to win, with the Diamonds clear favourites.
But 9.4 overs later, it was the Vipers who were walking off to collect the trophy, leaving the northern side to contemplate having finished runners-up in England’s List A competition for 5 consecutive years – as Yorkshire, finishing second in the County Championship in 2017, ’18 and ’19; and as Diamonds, defeated by Vipers in the RHF final in 2020 and now ’21.
“I never ever think we’re down and out, but I knew it was an uphill task,” admitted Vipers coach Charlotte Edwards as her team celebrated with the trophy on the outfield at Northampton. “It was one of the most unbelievable games of cricket – two really good teams who fought hard. Both teams probably thought they’d won it at times, but we’re really thankful to come out on top.”
The keys to the win were Emily Windsor and Tara Norris, who shared an unbeaten stand of 78 to grind out the most unlikely come-back win from 7 wickets down.
“I came down to the dug-out and said ‘We’ve got to take this as deep as we possibly can, and back ourselves’,” said Edwards, “and that’s what they did.”
Tara Norris, speaking with her winner’s medal around her neck, reflected her coach’s words: “I said to Winnie [Emily WIndsor]: ‘We’ve just got to take it deep.’ We knew that if we batted the 50 overs we’d win the game so it was about just holding our nerve.”
For Norris, the experience of losing on finals day twice already this season was a huge motivation: “I knew I didn’t want to feel that way again, so for me it was that grit that I wouldn’t walk off the pitch until the game was over.”
Although the Vipers were chasing a relatively low total, which Norris admitted they would have taken at the start of the day, the Diamonds bowlers didn’t make it easy at any stage, with Jenny Gunn and Katie Levick between them bowling 20 overs, taking 4-51; but crucially Diamonds gambled on bowling both out early, leaving Norris and Windsor to face slightly easier options in the run-in.
“Winnie was getting a little bit stressed,” admitted Norris, “but I just told her: ‘It’s a run a ball, we’ve done this thousands of times, we’ve got this.’ It was just being smart and thinking: Katie Levick and Jenny Gunn have got two overs left, one over left – let’s not take them on – let’s see them off and take the game as it comes and try and attack a different bowler.”
Which they did, taking 10 runs off Linsey Smith in the 49th, leaving them needing just two to win in the final over bowled by Beth Langston. Langston had bowled really well up-top, taking two wickets in her first two overs, but with the ball now old, she couldn’t quite generate the same zip she’d achieved earlier, allowing Windsor to hit the winning boundary off the 4th ball and seal the title.
It was a satisfying moment for the coach.
“I’m so proud of them all – we’ve had a great season, we’ve only lost one 50 over game, and to come out under that pressure to win it… I’m a bit lost for words! It makes all those winter months and all the hard work we’ve done truly worthwhile.”
England put the ODI series to bed in Derby, completing their highest ever run chase thanks to a heavyweight hundred from Heather Knight.
Knight’s 4th international century was a very on-brand innings – perfectly paced, she did (almost) exactly what was needed – no more; no less. She passed 50 barely acknowledging the milestone, focussing on the job at hand; and only when she passed one hundred did she remove her helmet and share a hug with Danni Wyatt who was batting at the other end.
It wasn’t quite the perfect innings though – Knight’s famous concentration let her down for a moment, holing-out on the boundary with 8 runs still required – and she’ll be kicking herself for it. But despite the loss of Wyatt in the same over, it somehow felt never in doubt for England, with shades of the 2017 World Cup semi-final as Anya Shrubsole came in and clattered the first ball of the final over for 4, although it still took a wide to get them over the line with 2 balls to spare.
That New Zealand were able to set England a record-breaking chase was largely thanks to their tail piling on the runs at the death. With Katey Martin playing the anchor role at one end, finishing on 65*, Brooke Halliday (28) and Hannah Rowe (15) knocked off 43 from 33 balls between them, as the White Ferns hit at 7 runs an over through the last 10.
Hannah Rowe then went on to take 3-19 in her first six-over spell, removing Lauren Winfield-Hill with a beauty, as well as Tammy Beaumont and Nat Sciver, to leave England in a spot of bother at 71-3. Amy Jones has had ups and downs this summer, and she didn’t look at her best today either, but the important thing today was to stabilise the innings at a point where England could have collapsed to the loss, and that Jones did, putting on exactly 100 runs with Knight, to take England into match-winning territory.
Danni Wyatt also made a vital intervention – 27 off 27 balls, and crucially hitting her one maximum at an absolutely pivotal moment. At the start of the 44th over, England still needed 42 from 42 balls. By the end of it, that 6 from Wyatt, plus a 4 from Knight and 3 singles, had changed the equation to 29 from 36 balls – suddenly the pressure was dialled-down, and England were able to get home despite the mini-collapse at the end.
England clearly didn’t envisage Wyatt being part of their first-choice ODI XI coming into this series, but she has made a couple of important contributions now, and England look to have found a formula that works with 7 batters, albeit one that does leave them dependent on Nat Sciver to bowl almost a full quota of overs. Sciver is in a little bit of a slump with the bat, having scored just 34 runs in 6 outings versus New Zealand, but she’ll come good again – she has to, if England are to have any hope in Australia this winter.
Freed from the pressure to win the series, it will be interesting to see if England give Maia Bouchier a run out in the last match, having called her up prior to the Leicester game. If not, Heather Knight hinted in the press conference that people could be released to play in the RHF Trophy final on Saturday, so hopefully it will be one or the other – either an England ODI debut, or a domestic final.
Meanwhile, her Vipers teammate Charlie Dean looks to have secured her spot on the plane to the Ashes in Australia, having now played all 4 ODIs thus far, and taken 3 more wickets today. She’s not just bagging the tail-end Charlies (sorry!), or getting people caught on the boundary either – her wickets today included Amy Satterthwaite bowled and Sophie Devine LBW. There will be challenges to come – the hard part for any spinner is a few months after your debut, when the batters have had a chance to review your footage and make their plans – but she’s made a start, and you can’t ask for anything more than that.
A battling half-century from Maddy Green got New Zealand home in a chase that looks easier on the scorecard than it was at the ground.
Until today, in a 9-year international career, Green had never passed 50 against a “Top 8” team – her two previous highest scores of 122 and 50 both coming against Ireland on the “Tour Of A Trillion Tons” in 2018.
Coming to the crease at 12-1 in the 5th over, Green fought through 40 overs, finishing 70* off 106 balls, to carry the White Ferns to only their second ODI win in 2 years – a period in which they have lost 13 one day games.
A late assault from Lea Tahuhu, who smashed Tash Farrant for consecutive 4s and then finished it off with a 6, meant that the Kiwi’s margin of victory was 25 balls; but it was a closer run thing than that suggests. England kept plugging away, and when Katherine Brunt took the wicket of Hayley Jensen to leave New Zealand 7 down with still 21 required, it looked like England might just pull off one of history’s great escapes; but Tahuhu was having none of it – Green actually barely got a look-in at the death, with Tahuhu scoring all but 3 of the remaining runs.
It was in a way poetic that Tahuhu finished it off, having started it earlier in the day with a wonderful spell of controlled fast… ish bowling. She didn’t bowl with the pace she is legendary for, but she pitched it up on a track with little carry, and bowled tight lines to send England’s top order tumbling, taking 4-20 in the powerplay, and then coming back later to put the icing on the cake with a 5th – her first international 5fer in a decade-long, 128-match career.
The credit goes to Tahuhu, of course; but the other side of the coin is that England’s batters look exhausted after the longest summer of their careers. From the start of the domestic season back in May, there was then a long series against India, including the Test; followed by The Hundred, which was somehow a much more intensive competition to play than the KSL. Adding on a September series with 3 T20s and then 5 ODIs – two more than “normal” – feels like the straw that has broken the batter’s backs.
We now move on to Derby, where New Zealand have a chance to square up the series and set up a decider at the weekend. England’s challenge will be to pick themselves up again for one last push; while New Zealand have a real opportunity to upset England’s slightly knackered-looking apple cart.
Whatever the politics, England will be mightily relieved in retrospect that they don’t now have to travel to Pakistan next month – that feels like it really would have been a bridge too far, and is something the ECB will need to consider when they try to reschedule that series for 2022. These players didn’t grow up as professionals, and we still have to account for that in what we ask of them, or we’ll end up with a lot more days like today.
Back in June 2019, Bryony Smith made her ODI debut for England. In a rain-affected match at Chelmsford, Smith didn’t get a bat (she was carded to come in at 9) but took 1-20 from 8 overs, as England beat West Indies by 135 runs on D/L.
Following that game, I wrote that then-coach Mark Robinson looked to have found a role for Smith, not as the opening batter everyone thought she was, but as a replacement for the soon-to-retire Laura Marsh – a reliable, economical off-spinner spinner, who offered a bit with the bat as a bonus.
So much for my theories… Smith hasn’t played for England since; while England have continued the search for a long-term spin partner for Sophie Ecclestone, having burned through a number of names in the meantime.
Was perhaps Charlie Dean the answer? You certainly wouldn’t have picked her out at the start of the season – she isn’t even one of the 60-odd “full time” professionals we now have in England. But she obviously impressed Heather Knight, who captained her for London Spirit in The Hundred, and clearly saw something more in her.
Her debut was a solid performance in Bristol – she got hit for a few runs, but the important thing is how you respond to that; and her response today was just the one England would have wanted.
Dean came back into the attack with New Zealand having every prospect of winning the game, despite what felt like a decidedly un-generous Duckworth-Lewis adjustment, that cut the overs available by 16%, but the target by only 8%. I know… I know… it is all statistically proven, taking wickets into account as well as overs, but it still FELT harsh.
But I digress…
New Zealand needed 58 runs from 84 balls, with Katey Martin and Brooke Halliday at the crease – I wouldn’t have put money on the Kiwis at that stage… but equally I’d have been a fool to bet against them. Dean was the obvious bowler for New Zealand to target too – her first two overs had gone for 16; but England had to bowl her, with only 4 specialist bowlers plus Nat Sciver in their lineup.
The pressure was all on Dean in that moment.
And how did she respond?
She bowled her remaining 6 overs straight through, taking 4-20 in the spell: good wickets with good balls, and single-handedly put the game to bed. England simply couldn’t have asked for any more.
Is Charlie Dean the answer to all England’s hopes and prayers? Like the consequences of the French revolution, it is definitely too early too tell. But she has launched her ship on the seas of international cricket, and with a little fortune she could go far.
Good luck, Charlie!
At 105-4 at the end of the 30th over of their de-facto “semi final” against Southern Vipers, Northern Diamonds looked to be heading for a gently undulating total of around 175, with Bess Heath on 0 off 1 ball, having entered the fray at the fall of the 3rd wicket two overs before.
Ten overs later, things were looking very, very different, with Heath on her way to a 51-ball 71, which included eight 4s and two huge 6s, turning that gently undulating slope into an imposing cliff for the Vipers batters to climb.
It was 20-year-old Heath’s 3rd significant score in regional cricket since the end of The Hundred, following knocks of 58* and 78*, both against Thunder, in the CE Cup and RHF Trophy respectively, which will have been noted by those on the look-out for England’s next wicket-keeper, who will inevitably be a “batter who can keep” rather than just a wicket keeper.
It was going to take a significant performance from someone for the Vipers to scale “Heath’s Cliff” and that someone was Georgia Elwiss. Out of favour with England’s cricketing management, but with some vocal support from the national women’s football team, watching on from balcony of the Hilton Hotel, where they were staying following their 8-0 thrashing of North Macedonia in Southampton last night, Elwiss carried the Vipers on her shoulders for the second time in a week, hitting 84* to see them home.
In the last two matches, Elwiss has now accumulated 196 runs without being dismissed, after her 112* versus Sunrisers.
“I literally just bat,” said Elwiss after the game. “I don’t even look at the scoreboard. I know that if I can rotate the strike then runs will come. I’ve had a lean run of form over the summer so I felt like I needed to repay the Vipers a little bit, and it’s amazing what happens when you give yourself a chance.”
The chance Vipers have now is to retain the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, having won the inaugural competition last year. Whoever they face in the final – Sparks or Diamonds – won’t make it easy for them; but with Elwiss in great nick, Georgia Adams coming off the back of two consecutive half centuries, and Maia Bouchier back from England duty, they have the batting to climb the wuthering heights of any cliff – Heath’s.. or anyone else’s!
It’s not often that you lose 10 wickets and win the match – England have been bowled out 93 times in ODIs, and they won just 12 of those games – but this was one such time.
England were not the favourites at the innings break, having been bowled out for 241, albeit in the final over. Tammy Beaumont played a gorgeous cover drive early-doors, but it proved not to be a sign of things to come, as England’s batters found it difficult to get going. Beaumont scored 44 runs at a Strike Rate of under 60; while Heather Knight scored the bulk of her runs at a Strike Rate of around 75, only pushing on right at the end – lifting her Strike Rate well over 100 to hit her last 24 runs at 130.
At the 40 over mark, England looked set for a very sub-par 220, which would have made the game much more interesting from New Zealand’s point of view; but the last 10 overs turned things around quite a bit in the context of the match.
It was a very odd final phase of the innings, at least in terms of women’s ODIs, though I think this may be a more common pattern in men’s cricket (???) – England lost their last 5 wickets, which usually means a slump in the run rate, but still managed to hit 67 runs in the last 10 overs – by far their most productive phase of the game.
Nonetheless, even 241 didn’t feel like a par score. Much of the credit has to go to a very disciplined performance from New Zealand, with the ball and in the field. They might not have taken a heap of early wickets, but they bowled tightly and didn’t give much away. The Kiwi’s relay fielding on the boundary was a particular highlight, and something they really have got down to a fine art.
Earlier in the summer, we saw a few times that India would have two fielders chasing the ball on the boundary, but with neither sure what the other was planning to do, both would back out of the dive and the ball would run over the rope between them.
What New Zealand are doing firstly is communicating, so both fielders know which one of them is going to dive, and which will make the throw in; and then executing smoothly so that the diving fielder scoops up the ball and passes it up in one movement to the thrower, who is already in position to carry-through with the throw. It is almost like a rugby play, and I wonder if the cultural dominance of that sport in New Zealand is a factor in helping them visualise this move?
It was going to take a big day out with the ball for England to win the match against the odds, and that’s exactly what they produced, Katherine Brunt leading the way with a remarkable four consecutive maidens in the powerplay. It was a very different Katherine Brunt to the one we’ve seen recently too – this was “Back To Basics” bowling – good pace, pitching it up, bowling at the stumps, forcing the New Zealand openers to defend, defend, and defend some more. This is how Katherine Brunt used to bowl, back in the day when she was making her fearsome reputation; and it was where the game was won and lost really – leaving New Zealand so far behind where they needed to be, that even though they went at a reasonable rate in the middle overs, more so than England had done, they never caught up.
It wasn’t just Brunt though – the rest of the bowling unit needed to deliver, and they did. Nat Sciver bowled 5 overs (the number of overs she probably should be bowling in an ODI) taking 2-10; while Kate Cross and Sophie Ecclestone too bowled economically and took a couple of wickets apiece.
Charlie Dean, on debut, also acquitted herself well – better than it looks from her figures, because although she was slightly expensive, she bowled a lot of balls to Amy Satterthwaite and Lea Tahuhu at the end, when Tahuhu was having a ‘Why not?’ crack at the England attack.
It will be interesting to see where England go from here with Dean. They have been very keen to tell anyone who’ll listen that they are just “having a look” rather than buying, but this is a very intensive series, with 5 ODIs in 11 days, so they are almost certainly going to need to juggle things around a little bit, and my guess is that she’ll have at least one more game in which to stake a claim for a ticket to Australia and New Zealand this winter. There is still plenty of time for her – she is the first player born post-Y2K to play for England – but age shouldn’t be a barrier either – if she’s good enough, she’s good enough. (See also… you know who!!)