The visitors weren’t awful – they weren’t overawed, but ultimately they were overwhelmed. With the bat they preserved their wickets at the expense of scoring runs; and they lacked that little bit of professional sharpness in the field, as witnessed by the massive let-off for Tammy Beaumont when she really ought to have been run out after a horrible mix-up with her skipper when she was on 49. Are Pakistan anywhere near up there with England? No! But do they belong at this level? On the evidence of today, absolutely; and playing in these kinds of conditions now sets them up to be ready for the World Cup next year, for which they will still hope to qualify via the Qualifying Tournament.
England’s “Brave New World” didn’t look that brave or that new today – no new cap for Alex Hartley… and not even a game for Fran “Like A New Cap” Wilson. It is to be hoped that we see the two of them later in the ODI series, especially as ODIs rather than T20s would (you’d think) be their preferred environment. But the really important thing is that they got the victory – they aren’t 100% happy with their bowling or their fielding, and rightly so, but a win is a win!
Those who know Knight won’t be surprised to find that the “burden” of captaincy has quickly affected her form in the most positive of ways. She might not be “flashy”, either as a player or an individual, but as captain at Berkshire, Hobart Hurricanes, and now England, she has stood up and taken responsibility. Bowling-wise, she might not turn it much at all, but she lands it on a spot, and when you build pressure like that, the bad shots will come and the catches will follow. With the bat, she played quite conservatively, a lot off the back foot; but if her role going forward is to anchor the team coming in at 4, that is the game she needs to play in this kind of situation. (But in another situation, she can (and would) play differently.)
This was TB’s best performance in an England shirt, and it really does start to look as if Robinson might have had a transformative effect on someone who has always been able to do it at county, but has consistently struggled for England. She moved her feet like Ginger Rogers and punched like Nicola Adams; but she does need to remember to play to her strengths, driving in front of the wicket – the only times she looked shaky today were when she became a bit too expansive, not least the terrible shot she got out to.
Brunt finally got her 100th ODI wicket, something which has been weighing a little on her, because it has taken some time to move past 99; but that’s what happens when you are the best – people play you differently, and the wickets are genuinely harder to come by. So don’t panic – she isn’t struggling or losing her form – and she remains key to England’s World Cup prospects next year.