Danni Wyatt’s cricket career has been a game of two halves. Between her debut in 2010 and 2016, hers was a tale of potential unfulfilled – probably the most gifted natural athlete of her era in the game, she was never able to translate that into runs (or wickets) in the international arena. Then… somehow… England coach Mark Robinson finally found her “on” switch, as he had done with Tammy Beaumont before, and would go on to do with Amy Jones after; and at last the runs came, including that career-defining, 57-ball T20 century out in Australia in the 2017 Ashes.
But looked at another way, since that “surgence” (sic – there’s no “re”!) her career has been a game of two games.
The upward trend in her average has really only been in T20 cricket, and this summer against the West Indies has reflected that. In the ODI series, she made 8, 3 and 12 – just 23 runs – but back in a T20 shirt last night, she hit 81 off 55 balls, earning herself the Player of the Match award as England continued their long winning run.
It is true that she was lucky – she was dropped twice in the troublesome-teens – an absolute dolly at mid off that any park player would hope to pouch 9 times out of 10; and a tougher chance behind the stumps, but one which you’d expect an international wicket keeper to take. But there is a lot of luck in this game, and the best players learn to ride it as Wyatt did in that innings, leaving no room for doubt – she is one of the best T20 players in the world.
The dilemma for England now, almost regardless of what happens in the final T20 next week, is about Ashes selection.
If the Ashes began with the T20s, it would be obvious; but it doesn’t – it begins with the ODIs and then the Test; and on Wyatt’s ODI form, you’d probably have to pick Fran Wilson ahead of her for those one-dayers and more than likely for the Test too.
But can you really drop Wyatt after what she did last night?
It was always going to be a tough call for Mark Robinson… and with her innings at Northampton, Wyatt just made it tougher.
Wyatt got off to a streaky start, it’s true, but as her innings progressed she played some wonderful shots and ran brilliantly between the wickets. She always likes to take a lot of risks, but has learned to not let any mistakes affect her and this showed last night in what I think was her best it20 innings in England.
Also impressive were Jones, Sciver and Knight and England made a lot of extra runs taking advantage of a poor Windies fielding performance. There were many twos that England created that should only ever have been singles.
Brunt and Smith in particular did well with the ball, although England were I think a bit shocked early on in the field with the way King came out and really gave it a go. There were a few loose early balls from England, but Windies lost some early wickets too and weren’t able to sustain their assault. Still, it was their best effort of the tour so far.
I thought the fielding was generally good although a couple of run outs were missed, including when Cross, who didn’t have her best game in any department, inexplicably threw the ball back down the other end instead of simply removing the bails at the bowler’s end which she was at! Weird, that was.
In terms of team selection, Wyatt is obviously always in the T20 team, she really comes alive in this format. I’m not sure about Cross in T20 actually, she is better in test/ODIs and maybe we could try one of the other challengers like George, Dunkley, Gordon etc.
I have felt for a while that Wyatt’s main route into the ODI side would be coming in in the lower middle order and bowling a few overs of off spin as well. Now Smith seems to have taken on just that role, it might make it more difficult for Wyatt unless Robinson sticks with the same team in the Ashes.
First time I’ve been there in person to see a Danni Wyatt “special”. Yes, she rode her luck, but she seems to have the ability to instantly forget the ball that has just happened (good or bad) and play the next one with a clear mind.
Her running was exceptional, something you dont always get a proper feel for on TV. Always willing to put pressure on the fielder, I’ve no doubt that contributed to some of those fielding lapses. England ran 20 twos and 4 threes (West Indies 6 & 1 respectively) and most were down to Wyatt. She never looked out of breath in any of the big-screen close-ups either!
All that being said, I would opt for Fran Wilson (or Dunkley) ahead of her in ODIs. With Knight (if fit!) and Sciver in the squad, it’s unlikely Wyatt’s bowling is going to come into the thinking, so it comes down to batting. Wilson is perhaps a steadier head for the vastly differing scenarios that can be thrown at someone coming in at no. 6 in the longer format.
Wyatt has also shown she has learned how to play in ODI’s. Three innings is not enough to tell: she only hit her first ODI half century earlier this year in India, and pretty much saw us through to victory.
Maybe I am a huge (too huge?) Wyatt fan, but I would put her in for the ODIs as well. Down the order, with instructions to be sensible (she can, you know?), and treat her as our batting all-rounder. She is too competitive and (in many ways) thoughtful, to be left out.
As for the Test… given it is such a crap shoot and we rarely seem to compete against India, let alone Australia, I’d suggest we focus on the white ball stuff and just put forward anyone in form for the five day game. We’ll probably get beaten anyway.
Just an opinion.