Bowling Like Goblins
As at Fortress Chelmsford, having won the toss Charlotte Edwards handed her bowlers and fielders the responsibility of trying to hold-back the fearsome artillery barrage of the Australian batting line-up. And once again they bowled like goblins.
Anya Shrubsole was in especially malevolent mood, going for just 2.5 runs per over and taking two crucial wickets – Ellyse Perry for 7 in her first spell; and Grace Harris in her second.
Harris in particular was looking very threatening. As she almost effortlessly swept Hazell so far over cow corner that the farmer was starting to worry about his windows, we tweeted that England needed her gone… shortly after which Lauren Winfield dropped her at mid off – a fairly regulation chance made actually very difficult as it went straight through the beam of the floodlight. So it was a massive fillip for England going into the final overs when Shrubsole removed her LBW.
A word too about Heather Knight – asked to bowl just the penultimate over, after it looked suspiciously like Edwards had miscalculated, and having been a bit expensive in Chelmsford, Heather conceded just the five singles to Jess Cameron, who showed in the final over just how dangerous she can be – taking Nat Sciver for 13 and somewhat spoiling the all-rounder’s figures in the process.
Batting Like Gnomes
Meg Lanning conceded afterwards that the Aussies felt in the innings break that 107 was going to be very difficult to defend; and moreover their decision to drop a spinner (Osborne) in favour of a seamer (Rene Farrell) was possibly looking very questionable at that stage.
But if the Southern Stars were worried, they’d reckoned without the ineptitude of England’s top-order, who batted with all the elegance of garden gnomes who’d spent one too many long summer days sitting out in the beach-bleached Brighton sun.
The tragedy, as Edwards admitted in the press conference, is that we know these players can bat. We’ve seen Lauren Winfield play for Yorkshire this season, smashing it all over the shop against bowlers who aren’t Ellyse Perry admittedly, but aren’t trundling mugs either. But here she was once again tamely caught, playing an outfield shot into the infield, in an almost identical manner (albeit the other side of the wicket) to her dismissal at Chelmsford – hitting out without the “hitting” bit.
Only Danni Wyatt’s all-too-brief cameo displayed the positivity that England have been talking about all summer – looking for the scoring strokes and scampering between the wickets, like an open-topped roadster roaring down the highway, leaving the soccer mums in their minivans for dust; and the way she got out was desperately unlucky, given how rarely her chances seem to come around.
Heads In Places
For England fans, it was deja-vu all over again. Unless Edwards or Taylor make runs, we are so often left with Lydia Greenway shepherding the tail – a job she has done so successfully that she is now England’s highest run-scorer in this series; but it betrays huge problems further up the order.
When asked what new head coach Matthew Mott brought to the Southern Stars, Meg Lanning credited him with getting their heads in the right places.
England’s aren’t; and that’s the real story here.