England went in with 7 batsmen, including Amy Jones – who got her first opportunity out in the middle in an ODI since South Africa last winter – and only 4 bowlers. They can get away with this because they know that between Nat Sciver, Heather Knight and Georgia Elwiss, they have plenty of options for the other 10 overs they need to find.
But where England are gambling a little bit though is in picking both Elwiss and Danni Wyatt – not because this doesn’t work on a game-by-game basis, but because if this is the strategy, it means that they don’t have any backup batsmen on this tour – if the plan is to play 7 batsmen, and someone gets injured, there is no cover and you’re bust! Fingers crossed then! (Especially as the really crucial “Championship” matches are at the end of the tour!)
Given that the pitch was clearly made of plasticine… and not new plasticine either, but plasticine that has been in the playbox for a year so all the colors have gotten mixed-up into a hazy shade of purply-brown… batting was never going to be easy. It was interesting that the one player that mastered it was Danni “Bish Bash Bosh” Wyatt, who neither bished, nor bashed, nor boshed; but played relatively patiently, hitting just one boundary in her 44. It goes without saying that if she had not knuckled-down as she did, England would not have won this game, and Wyatt was deservedly Man of the Match.
It was definitely a “team performance” with the ball – 2 wickets each for Ecclestone and Marsh; and 3 each for Brunt and Hartley.
This was actually a huge game for Alex Hartley – she is six years older than Ecclestone (23 to 17) and had a couple of wobbles over the summer – the pressure was really on to show she could mix it with the big girls out there – and she did – the wicket of Taylor was obviously huge, but to stay focussed and pick up another next ball was just fantastic.
As for Brunt, Heather Knight really threw the dice bringing her back when she did – pace back on the ball could have been just what the doctor ordered for the West Indies, and even if she hadn’t gone for runs, she would have been bowled out with still LOTS of time for the Windies to nurdle their way to victory, which was all they needed to do. But the gamble paid off with the final two wickets; and for the second time in a day, after New Zealand v South Africa earlier, a team had successfully defended a tiny total with the main damage we suspect being to the coach’s fingernails!!
Stream If You Wanna Go Faster
Okay, so the stream was only one (fixed) camera, and the quality was so poor that it was often difficult to see the ball. A second (non-fixed) camera, as Ireland used in the summer, would have made a big difference; but this means having to pay two more people – a cameraman and a producer to flick between them – and here’s the thing: it was still sooooo much better than no stream at all, and together with the TMS commentary, it sure beats refreshing a scorecard on Cricinfo!
There is a lesson for the ECB to learn here – you sometimes get the impression that in terms of coverage it is all or nothing for them – if they can’t afford seventeen cameras, and a production booth the size of a battleship, they would rather not do it. And it is true that a stream like that probably won’t win any new fans; but for the fans you have it is a life-saver in terms of cementing their engagement!