Thoughts from Syd Egan & Raf Nicholson (And don’t forget to add yours below!)
By this stage in the series, Tammy Beaumont and Lauren Winfield were essentially playing back-garden cricket, and loving every minute of it; yet again they set up a fantastic platform for England, between them having scored over 700 runs this summer. However, once more a better fielding side would have punished them: both survived run out chances, and Winfield was actually dropped twice, the first time on 22*. Overall, though, it’s hard to criticise a top order that was under a lot of pressure coming into the ODI series but doesn’t seem to have been phased by that.
Pakistan at last seemed to get their fielding together in this game, with a direct hit run out and a brilliant diving catch at deep backward square leg to dismiss Nat Sciver and Heather Knight in successive balls. It was just a shame that they left it until the penultimate over of the tour…arguably a little bit late in the day!
With the bat, it’s interesting to look at the breakdown in how the runs were scored. Across the second and third T20 matches, Pakistan hit exactly the same number of fours as England did (13 at Southampton; 15 at Chelmsford – though England admittedly did hit four sixes today). The main difference was in the number of dot balls faced: today, for example, Pakistan’s innings contained twice as many dot balls as England’s (62 to 31). It was Pakistan’s failure to snatch the quick singles, then, that let them down in this series.
We were thrilled to see Alex Hartley receive her T20 cap before start of play today, and it was good captaincy on Heather Knight’s behalf to bring her back on for a second go after her first over went for 11 runs. In fact it mirrored what had happened at Taunton on Hartley’s ODI debut: she came on, lost her line bowling at the left-hander, but on both occasions was given a second chance. This time round she changed ends, and got a bit of luck – firstly bad (Danni Wyatt dropping an absolute sitter of a catch which she would have taken 999 times out of 100); and then good (Fran Wilson taking a catch the next ball to give Hartley her first international wicket).
On the other hand, her second wicket was nothing to do with luck: she saw Bismah Maroof coming down the pitch and fired in a much quicker delivery which clean bowled her. It was a really smart bit of work to dismiss one of Pakistan’s best batsmen, and just shows why Hartley’s selection was long overdue.
It was also good to see Tash Farrant finally getting the opportunity that we felt she so deserved, having had very few chances to don an England shirt over the last few years despite being one of the original contracted 18. She only took the one wicket, but it was a beauty: the perfect slower ball out of the back of the hand, straight out of the textbook, with Nahida Khan getting onto it far too quickly and sending the catch back into Farrant’s own hands. As current top wicket-taker in the County Championship, Farrant joins the long list of players this summer who have seized the chance to show they can replicate their domestic form at international level.
Not only is Jenny Gunn far and away England’s most economical bowler and their leading wicket-taker in ODIs, she now – after today’s caught-and-bowled effort to dismiss Nida Dar – holds another record: the most catches by any player in T20Is. Following on from her brilliant performance in Tuesday’s game at Southampton, it’s pretty apparent that while she might no longer be an automatic selection on Robbo’s team sheet, she still has something important to offer England.