Before today only Marizanne Kapp could really claim a rightful place as a pace bowler in any team of the tournament: it’s been not just a batsman’s tournament, but one dominated by spin as well. What a time for that all to change.
Two of the greats of the game today showed exactly why they are considered such: firstly Jhulan Goswami, whose spell of 3 wickets for 2 runs in 10 balls changed the course of England’s innings. Then Anya Shrubsole wreaked utter havoc, finishing with the best ever figures in a World Cup final and proving precisely why the inswinging yorker is her trademark delivery. It wasn’t even a particularly seam friendly pitch. It just proves that when you need them to, your best bowlers will come good, every time.
As the first women’s tournament where DRS has been in use, today was again a mixed bag for both sides – for England, Lauren Winfield overturned an incorrect LBW decision, but Nat Sciver later proved that it isn’t only male cricketers who will use DRS out of hope rather than good judgement. India, too, struggled: Punam Raut asking for a review but being turned down because the umpire said she had taken too long to reach her decision.
It’s been a big ask for female players to become accustomed to DRS in such a short space of time, especially when it’s only available at certain matches – it’s not like you can have a “DRS net session” – but that didn’t stop Heather Knight being pretty unequivocal about her views on its use post-match: “I think it’s a brilliant addition to the game… it’s important that it continues [being used].” I agree. Let’s hope the ICC do as well.
Bottom order contributions
“Batting is something everybody needs to do”, Mithali Raj said in the post-match press conference. She couldn’t have hit the nail on the head more if she tried. The key difference between the sides today was the fact that India’s last 7 wickets fell for 28 runs – whereas Jenny Gunn and Laura Marsh were able to put on 32 runs between Katherine Brunt being run out in the 46th over and the end of England’s innings. “The last 4 or 5 [Indian] batters couldn’t handle the pressure,” admitted Mithali.
In fact, since their loss to India in game one, England haven’t been bowled out in this tournament, and that’s been crucial to their success. In the Australia match it was Gunn and Katherine Brunt putting on 85 for the 7th wicket which dragged them up to a competitive total – in the semi-final against South Africa Gunn and Fran Wilson put on 40 for the same. Most teams say they bat deep. England actually do.
New England still get things wrong: Sarah Taylor does, occasionally, miss stumpings; Heather Knight does drop catches (and so does Jenny Gunn). But they also never give up. They looked absolutely dead in the water today, and then the miracle happened. One minute I’m eating scones at the back of the press box, the next Anya Shrubsole is on fire and the game is turning on its head. Amazing to watch. Frankly, all the tributes in the world aren’t enough for Mark Robinson, who has somehow transformed this side into world-beaters.
What a day! What a match! The atmosphere. The roar from the crowd that went up as Goswami bowled her first ball. The ticket touts lining the streets from the tube station to the ground. The queues at the gate to get in. The flags, the drummers, the kids wrapped in Indian and English flags. Whether you’re an England fan or not – what a magical, magical day for women’s cricket.