In August 2015 England came to Canterbury for the Women’s Ashes Test – the pitch was lifeless and the press box WiFi wasn’t much better, as England lost by a country mile.
In the 3 years since, little has changed – the pitch offered little to the batsmen or the bowlers and the WiFi offered little to the press, though at least England fans had something to cheer this time as they took the game and the series!
South Africa made a very slow start, after having opted to bat. When Laura Wolvaardt got out early the other day, Lizelle Lee took on her role as the anchor and played really well; but when it was Lee that got out early today, it was too much to expect Wolvaardt to suddenly start slogging sixes over midwicket, especially when midwicket to one side was a good 70 meters! This isn’t to criticise Wolvaardt – she played her role – but when an opener is playing that “going long” role, then it really needs someone at the other end “going big” and neither Andrie Steyn nor Dane van Niekerk, really did this today.
Perhaps South Africa should look at sending Chloe Tryon in earlier in these situations, because she showed what she can do with a couple of huge sixes; but by the time she came in today there was too much to do, and South Africa collapsed from 197-4 to 228 all out, as batsman after batsman got themselves out, with England’s bowlers having to do little more than send the ball down, Sarah Taylor’s excellent glove-butlering besides.
In England’s reply, South Africa’s opening bowlers put the pressure on early, as they always do, and Marizanne Kapp really should get a credit in the scorebook for the wicket of Amy Jones, who was clearly so chuffed to have seen-off Kapp, who was giving her all sorts of problems, that she lost concentration and lazily popped Ayabonga Khaka’s first delivery up to square leg, giving Sune Luus the easiest catch she’ll take all year! It was poor from Jones, who looked good in the first two ODIs without getting a score, but this time looked scratchy and still didn’t get a score.
Then Sarah Taylor got out, and for a while South Africa were up in England’s faces in the field – darting around like daemons – stopping everything that was there to be stopped, and the required run rate climbed over 5 for a period; but South Africa still needed wickets and the pitch was offering them no help – they even turned to Sune Luus, who almost got a wicket with a full toss, which seems to be her stock wicket-taking delivery these days.
But gradually Tammy Beaumont and Heather Knight wore South Africa down and they collapsed mentally – all the energy drifted away from them, and everyone from the skipper down suddenly looked less like a professional cricket player and more like a stroppy teenager who has been asked to do the washing up.
In the end it was all too easy for England – Tammy Beaumont departed, but Heather Knight turned on the afterburners at the end to bring home the ICC Championship points and the Royal London trophy and leave a very good Canterbury crowd of over 2,000 cheering.