England have had worse days – indeed they’ve had worse days in the past year… just! (It was a day short of a year ago (August 13th 2014) when they were bowled out for 92 by India at Wormsley.) But if this wasn’t a new low, it still plumbed awfully close to those depths.
It wasn’t so much the score – 168 certainly isn’t a number which comes with embarrassment automatically attached. It was more the manner of the performance that was just so abject. Lauren Winfield got a very good ball; but that aside, the Australians weren’t especially good; it’s simply that England were, frankly, pretty bad.
The key to England’s shocker was their inability to deal with pressure. And the pressure was certainly upon them quite soon after lunch, as Sarah Taylor fell 100 runs short of that elusive maiden Test century to leave the side reeling at 7/2.
That brought Edwards to the crease and she alone among England’s batsmen looked comfortable out there, because she has the experience and the temperament to deal with Test cricket, which all the rest of the top-order seem to lack once they actually get out into the middle.
(And you have to ask again why Edwards wasn’t opening? Especially given that she basically did open today… just with 2 wickets already down!)
After Edwards departed, the only other England player who made any real headway with the bat in terms of strike-rate was a bowler – top-scorer Katherine Brunt. Why? Because by the time she came in England were already stuffed, so there was no pressure – she could play with a freedom apparently beyond everyone else higher up the order, whose collective strike-rates averaged just 23. (Which is fine if you stay in for 50 overs… but somewhat less fine if it’s more like 50 balls.)
Brunt v Jonassen
I think it is safe to say these two won’t be going on a hot date any time soon – there was a definite “daggers-at-dawn” moment from Katherine Brunt yesterday, which Jess Jonassen laughed off at the time; but it was Brunt who had the last laugh first thing this morning, clearly taking much pleasure in depriving “JJ” of her début century; and again in the late afternoon, as she came down the track and dispatched the Aussie spinner over mid on to give England’s supporters at least something to cheer about in what was otherwise as depressing a day as I can remember.
Lightning Once… Lightning Twice
The result against India last summer could be written off by England fans at the time as a freak. But lightning now seems to be striking for a second time – it is almost as if someone up there doesn’t like us; and it isn’t much fun.