I’ll admit to experiencing a fair few nerves ahead of today’s match. As a must-win game for England, I was worried.
That seems a long time ago now.
England absolutely trampled all over South Africa with the ball. Linsey Smith carried on from where she left off the other day, introduced in only the third over of the powerplay and claiming the wicket of Laura Wolvaardt with her fourth delivery. England did get somewhat overexcited early on – chucking away their DRS review on an Anya Shrubsole ball that was missing Lizelle Lee’s leg stump by a fair old whack – but with Lee the big South Africa wicket, perhaps that was understandable.
“It ended up being a terrible review really,” Shrubsole told CRICKETher afterwards. “I thought it was bit closer than it was, and then you watch a replay. It was one of those things – DRS is new to everyone and we are getting used to it.”
By the halfway stage England had already broken the backbone of the South African innings, reducing them from 27-1 to 30-4. Kirstie Gordon again bowled well, but it was Nat Sciver – with remarkable figures of 4-1-4-3 – who starred.
While it seemed incongruous for Mark Robinson to stick with an unchanged side, not bringing in Tash Farrant on this seamer’s wicket, the performance of Sciver today showed that she is quite capable of stepping up in Katherine Brunt’s stead, Farrant or no. After her good showing with the ball in this season’s KSL – 10 wickets at 28 – Sciver can now, I think, be considered a frontline T20 bowler, rather than a batter-who-bowls. It’s hard to put your finger on exactly what has changed for her over the past few months, but something certainly has.
“She has worked really hard leading up to this – made a little bit of a technical change to her action, and the ball is coming out beautifully,” said Shrubsole of her new-ball partner. “We’ve always known that she is capable of this and she is a world class allrounder – she has shown it with the bat in the past, and she is showing it with the ball now in this tournament.”
Shrubsole then wrapped things up with a 20th over hat-trick. Easy pickings in one sense; but this was the clinical performance that we didn’t see against Bangladesh – England determined not to take their foot off the pedal until their opponents were ground into the dust.
By the time South Africa took the field, they were already thoroughly demoralised, as evidenced by some terrible pieces of fielding – new keeper Faye Tunnicliffe letting through 4 byes and Masabata Klaas failing to collect a straightforward pick-up at third man. It didn’t help that DRS was unavailable for much of the England innings due to a power outage. (Power cuts appear to be common here in St Lucia – we had one in our villa a few days back!)
Meanwhile the England openers, after such a disastrous start against Bangladesh on Monday, seem to have recovered their joie de vivre, presumably due to being able to train properly over the past 3 days thanks to some Caribbean sunshine. It was a shame they couldn’t finish the job, but to reach 55 without losing a wicket set the platform for the middle-order that was so non-existent on Monday.
So South Africa are out of it; while England are assured of a place in the semi-finals, after West Indies beat Sri Lanka.
From the South African perspective, after such a good showing in last year’s 50-over World Cup this tournament has been a huge disappointment. Their key problem is clearly their batting. Wednesday’s collapse against West Indies was pretty bad, but this was in some ways even worse: none of their top 4 could muster up a strike rate of more than 60. Their biggest asset with the bat, Lizelle Lee, seems to be stifling her natural game, holding back when she should be firing. While this might be assumed to be on the advice of her coaches, Hilton Moreeng categorically denied this in the post-match press conference.
England, meanwhile, face defending champions West Indies in their final group match on Sunday. Despite already being through to the next stage, England will want to win this to ensure they top the group and avoid a likely semi-final clash with Australia (dependent on the Aussies beating India tomorrow). It should be a cracker.
A good win in the end, well done the girls! Shame the three wickets were given to South Africa, rather than them delivering wicket taking deliveries.
One groan, the over deliberations of the officials off the pitch.
Needlessly analysing front foot no balls when the front foot lands a foot length behind the line of the crease! And some of the processes of going through lbw or snicks are laborious.
A much more assured batting performance than the first match, thanks to both Wyatt and Beaumont getting quick starts. Amazing what a difference an opening stand can make.
Meanwhile, with the West Indies having reached 187/5, I suspect England are through. Only position to worry about now.
Very good performance last night from England, and indeed West Indies. England’s bowling and fielding was tight and they gave little away. Sciver seems to have become more accurate and gained a yard of pace in the process, she is now often bowling near 70 mph. And Gordon has been brilliant as well, looked like she’s played international cricket for years. Robinson certainly knows how to find and pick these good players.
Linsey Smith has looked a bit nervous to me, bowling a bit too wide at times, but you can’t argue with her figures, she’s done exactly what England have needed so far. Shrubsole’s amazing hat-trick was a reminder of just what she can do, blowing the tail away. England played positively with the bat as well, I wouldn’t worry about losing a few wickets in T20. I feel sorry for SA though. they seemed to go into their shell and be totally lacking confidence.
Sri Lanka seem a bit demoralised now and haven’t played well apart from the Bangladesh win. I can’t see them beating an SA team that will be angry, and hungry for a consolation win. SL probably won’t score the runs needed to turn around England huge NRR advantage. Atapattu played a good knock but the WI win was emphatic, terrific performance from Hayley Matthews especially. I feel that WI haven’t really been tested yet though and might be vulnerable if they lose early wickets. I am a bit worried about what they could do to us on Sunday, but at least from England’s perspective they should be under a bit less pressure if they do slip up.
Sorry, getting a bit confused about my teams/matches remaining there…
Congratulations to England on a very professional performance on what must have been a nervy day for them given they would have been out if they had lost.
They also read the conditions perfectly as well, recognising as Nasser said on commentary that conditions had changed from a coupe of days ago. Despite us all wanting an extra seamer in they rightly stuck with the three spinners.
Really looking forward now to the West Indies match on Sunday.
Excellent all round from England. My daughter had a coaching session last night so I’ve only seen highlights of our bowling/fielding performance. By all accounts it sounds “up a notch” from the previous game, which has to be a good sign.
Good to see a positive approach with the bat, which also augurs well. We seems to have overcome any edginess from the early days and our “mojo” is returning.
Really disappointed with South Africa’s approach. They seem to have been generally unsure of how to go about it, and I suspect you have to question the coaching staff. Mark Robinson has made it a priority to free his players’ minds and unclutter their approach to batting, and that has shone through with England over the last couple of years, but SA looked as if they just had too much going round their heads. The coaching staff have a job to do to prepare a team right so they know their plans. You can’t be afraid of what might go wrong, otherwise you end up 85 all out with three balls to spare, and 99% of the time that’s only going to end one way.
The contrast with Windies was stark. Their “from ball one” intent was a breath of fresh air after some matches in this competition, and I reckon they could give us problems. I hope, of course, that we will bowl and field better than SL!
The really important reason for England topping their group is the time of their semi-final !! Win it and its a nice 8pm (GMT), lose it and I’ll be knackered at work on Friday. Hence, don’t care who we play, as long as its 8pm.
Well you didn’t get your wish Clanger, unfortunately! Who cares about work on Fridays anyway…
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