After Wednesday, this was the match that we all wanted to see: the titans v the titans.
For the home crowd at Taunton, it didn’t disappoint. For the neutral, though, it ended up somewhat undercooked.
From an England perspective the biggest positive was the way in which they picked themselves up after defeat to South Africa earlier in the day. They could so easily have been down-and-out psychologically; but whatever Mark Robinson said to them after the first game clearly worked its magic. “The team showed a lot of character,” reflected Player of the Match Sophie Ecclestone after play.
None showed it more than Ecclestone, who was the standout star. Once again she was belted for runs by Lizelle Lee in the first match of the day; once again she came back stronger, ending with 2 wickets in her final over.
Then, against New Zealand she was steely-calm, starting off with a maiden that forced the wicket of the dangerous Suzie Bates in the following over; and coming back in her second over to break the Katey Martin-Maddie Green partnership; before finishing off the New Zealand tail to finish with 4-18.
But it was perhaps with the bat that she did the most important job.
Tammy Beaumont, speaking in the break between the games, had been clear what England needed to do on this pitch: “165 / 170 is par.” It might have slowed down a little since Wednesday; but not that much. Earlier in the day against South Africa, 160 had simply not been enough.
When England lost 3 wickets in the space of 6 balls in the 17th and 18th overs, leaving them 140-7, “par” looked a way off.
But by the end of the innings you ended up wondering what you’d been worrying about – across the last 3 overs, Anya Shrubsole and Ecclestone (plus a brief cameo from Dani Hazell) between them added 32 runs, England finishing on 172-8.
While it’s been a hallmark of this England side that they bat deep, “genuine number 12” Sophie Ecclestone (to coin a Don Miles phrase) was hardly the player you would have expected to punish Sophie Devine for four.
And the sight of Anya Shrubsole sending Leigh Kasperek over the top for the only maximum of the innings was equally unexpected.
“If we’d kept them under 160 the momentum would have been in our favour,” reflected Suzie Bates after the game. It wasn’t; and more to the point it put the pressure on the Kiwi top order, right from the outset. Bates summed it up: “When you are chasing over 10 an over it makes any bowler look better.”
Afterwards, Ecclestone reflected on her innings in a succinct but apt manner: “I love batting! To get out there and give it a whack is fun to do.”
Coach Mark Robinson, whose mantra as coach has been “go out and bat with freedom”, should be very, very proud of his young protege.
England got unlucky with a dismissal or two like Taylor’s run out, but it was a solid “total by committee”, with quite a few valuable contributions either side of Sciver’s knock. The good thing for England was that losing wickets didn’t negatively affect the run-rate much. The lower order – Shrubsole, Ecclestone and Hazell, all did a great job of finishing off the innings. Eccelestone looks like a proper batsman to me. She’s not bad at all. And Shrubsole can hit a long ball. An innings that could well have ended with a lower score than the first match due to number of wickets lost, turned out to be 12 better.
It feels like that was the difference between England and NZ today – although Martin and Green did OK, apart from Bates and Devine no-one else looked they could get the runs for NZ. England have more batters capable of getting meaningful contributions. I was disappointed with New Zealand given their strong showing in the first T20 and against Ireland. They really caved in, after the top order tried taking too many liberties, and it must be said 118 was a poor effort. Despite the one-sided nature of the first SA-NZ encounter, the second one looks like it could be a lot closer. Certainly if SA play like they did today, they’ll be in with a real chance of moving above NZ in the points table.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I think James has it spot on here. England are – more often than not – a genuine sum of their parts, and increasingly they can be more than that. Yesterday v NZ it was Sciver and Ecclestone’s turn. You definitely feel that NZ are over-reliant on a smaller number of key players.
Don Miles knows far more about women’s cricket than I ever will but I can’t agree with him on Ecclestone. She played a brilliant hand alongside Brunt at Worcester and seems to me to have what they call ‘cojones’ with both bat and ball. Not afraid of a situation, not cowed by taking a setback. I like her and I think she’ll be around for a while.
Mixed feelings about the SA game. As an England fan I want them to win every match, but as a Women’s cricket fan that’s actually the last thing I want. The game needs teams like SA to be able to compete and to bounce back in that fashion is hugely to their credit. Particularly pleased for Sune Luus, who hasn’t looked much like a cricketer on this tour, but seems a likeable character. Again, though, one wonders whether she could have played that innings had Lee gone cheaply at the other end.
Fielding from all teams continues to be an issue. It’s the one facet of the game that I find hard to defend against the inevitable sneering from some quarters. Too many of the misfields and dropped catches are inexcusable at international level, and England seem to be as guilty as any team.
On a positive note, great to see a full house. We all know the game has deeper issues to face in the future but it does need the international game to be flourishing to maintain levels of interest and particularly girls coming into the game.
“great to see a full house” – er which match were you at then ?
Somerset website stating SOLD OUT 3 days ago does not equate to a full house either.
Precisely who is selling these tickets (and by implication doing a crap job of it) if Somerset can sell out their quota and there still loads of empty seats ?
It was a good attendance, but as Clanger says by no means sold out.
Good of Heather Knight to have faith in Ecclestone.
Just get the collective catches right!
I wonder if dropping Gunn for Farrant did anything except punish Gunn for her earlier fielding lapses?
I like Farrant a lot: she can swing the ball prodigiously. But she isn’t naggingly accurate like Gunn.
We won anyway, so I suppose it is a moot point, but had we needed them, I feel Gunn’s batting and bowling would have served us better.
Have to disagree, Gunn has not been in form lately. Farrant is a skiddy and deceptive bowler who is easy to hit up in the air but harder to put over the rope, and she often hits the top of the stumps. Plus these sides won’t have seen as much of her variations.
I was speaking of what actually happened: Farrant’s figures in the second match did not actually look heroic compared to Gunn’s in the first.
Ecclestone 6-53 across both matches at 6.6 per over. Outstanding bowling figures.
It was good to persevere with Ecclestone after an expensive start. And she delivered the goods at the end. Onto next week……and get those catches!
Good comeback from England. A real ebb and flow to the England innings aided by some poor New Zealand fielding. Thought Sciver held everything together really well but momentum was constantly being checked by losing wickets.
I missed most of the New Zealand innings but I do wonder if they are too reliant on Bates and Devine. I also wonder if they came into this game slightly undercooked. Beating Ireland and an off colour South Africa hasn’t given them much of a challenge so far and maybe England caught them cold. I expect better from them on Thursday.
They played two tough warm-up games against the Senior Academy on Sunday and Monday prior to this tournament. Don’t think they are undercooked, just inconsistent – bit of a feast or famine with NZ.
The comment above must be a close relative……
No I just thought it worth mentioning in case it was some sort of record. 2 matches in one day aren’t all that common. Seriously though RRR what have you against her apart from your standard random “give someone-else-but-I-won’t-say-who a chance”?! Would they have taken 6-53 I wonder. Crikey she’s not been in the team long.
And she is only 19!
She is an outstanding bowler.
Excellent action, great confidence and I think is surely going to being a regular in the side. Good bat too, has scored well in games for Lancashire.
Sorry any previous comments were misconstrued.