Having caught up with the highlights of yesterday’s England game, here are Raf Nicholson and Syd Egan’s thoughts:
- Are England capable of chasing down a total of 280+, of which we are going to see plenty more of in the next few years? Knight said in the press conference: “we backed ourselves to chase that total” – really?! All recent history suggests that England are weak at chasing, and even weaker at chasing big. Although the conditions might have pointed to a “bowl first” day, England need to be wary of allowing teams to post a total that they just can’t chase.
- England are a bowling team, but yesterday it was the bowlers who failed to control the game, and that doesn’t bode well going forward. India’s decision to take the powerplay early clearly got inside Anya Shrubsole’s head – England need to be able to deal with whatever the game throws at them, not simply have a pre-prepared plan and go to pieces when something happens that isn’t in that plan.
- England haven’t really solved their opening dilemma in the absence of Lauren Winfield, who they really missed yesterday. Chasing 6 an over, Winfield would have got them closer to the kind of start they needed, and that in turn would have massively reduced the pressure on the other batsmen coming in – as it was, the run rate seemed to keep on creeping up, and that made things very tricky for the middle order. Also, given events of the last year, is it really fair to put Sarah Taylor in to open? We know it’s not her favoured position. Winfield won’t be back for Tuesday’s game vs Pakistan at the very least, so perhaps England should think about putting their captain in at the top – if Knight is going to be the backbone of an innings, she’d be better off doing it from the outset, rather than coming in when the required rate has already risen and the pressure is starting to tell.
- Fran Wilson’s batting. In very difficult circumstances, her 81 shows that Mark Robinson was absolutely right to bring her back into the squad last year from what was essentially the wilderness – an astute call by an astute coach. Plus, if it really was the case that she wasn’t going to play until the Winfield injury, presumably she’s made a point now that she deserves to be an automatic selection for the rest of the tournament.
- Katherine Brunt’s batting. Not content with just being one of the world’s best bowlers, Brunt has also now become a big asset with the bat. It wasn’t quite enough yesterday, but it does show that – were England slightly closer to the total by the time she came in, or even in a situation where they required end-of-innings acceleration in order to pose a more commanding total – she can play the number 7 role that they need.
- Sarah Taylor is back playing international cricket. Still one of England’s biggest assets, it was a solid reboot to what England will hope will be a second flourishing to her international career – because by goodness do they need her.
- We’ve come a long way from the first game of the 1973 tournament, which was played on a tiny village ground at Kew Green. But given that this was the biggest women’s cricket tournament this country has ever seen, given that it was England, it was India, it was a Saturday and the weather was good – the crowd at Derby (c.2500) was a bit disappointing, particularly as we’d been promised a “sell-out”.