Twenty20 cricket… like life… comes at you fast!
Just 4 hours ago, we were reflecting on a world-record-breaking performance by New Zealand versus South Africa – a magnificent century by Suzie Bates setting up a total of 216 for the White Ferns at Taunton.
England were still back at their hotel while the Kiwis were batting – Anya Shrubsole telling us afterwards that she was watching on her laptop at the time:
“Half way through the New Zealand innings I thought: Should I shut the laptop and not watch it, because I’ve got to bowl on this later?”
“But it is good to watch and see how the teams are doing and how the pitch is playing, and it was pretty evident from the start it was an absolute belter.”
Belter or not, 216 was a clear statement of intent from New Zealand – they know they disappointed at the World Cup here in England last summer; and they are determined to go all the way at the World T20 this year.
So they laid down a marker.
And then England happened!
Heather Knight won the toss and had no hesitation:
“It was always going to be a bat first pitch,” says Shrubsole.
But pitches don’t break records, batsmen do:
“Tammy [Beaumont] and Danni [Wyatt] up front batted amazing; and then Nat [Sciver] and Katherine [Brunt] as well.”
Indeed it is easy to overlook Brunt’s and Sciver’s contributions – after all, by the time Beaumont was out England already had 185 – more than enough to win the match – they could have relaxed a bit… fired up a chilled-out playlist on Spoitfy… made cocktails…
But Sciver’s 33 off 15 balls, and even more so Brunt’s 42 off 16 balls at a Strike Rate of 263, were what turned a big total into a record-breaking one of 250.
So how do you go out and bowl on a pitch where 600 runs have already been scored that day? And not just bowl, but bowl 2 maidens in the powerplay, finishing 3 powerplay overs with figures of 3-2-2-0?
“I don’t know if I approached [bowling] differently to the others,” says Shrubsole. “I just tried to bowl a heavy length and bowl it straight and hope that it swung, and the swing helps – it gives you a bit more margin for error.”
It is typically modest, but truth be told, she was magnificent – England might be a batting team these days, but there will be days when they need to be a bowling team too – when the batting doesn’t quite click, or the pitches aren’t quite the “belter” this was – and she showed today she is absolutely integral to that.
But today was about the batters, as Shrubsole admits:
“Some of the bowlers might have had their pride hurt a little bit, but I challenge anyone who came here today to go away and say that wasn’t a thoroughly entertaining day of cricket. If you ask people who watch the games they want to see high-scoring games – they want to see 4s, they want to see 6s.”
And that’s what England gave them!