England clocked-up a huge 84-run win against Pakistan in the 2nd T20 today in Kuala Lumpur, after Amy Jones (89) and Danni Wyatt (55) put on 120 for the first wicket in just 11.2 overs.
It was a stupendous start from Jones and Wyatt, and I was just reaching for my laptop to look up whether two hundreds had ever been scored in the same innings before, in men’s or women’s T20 internationals, when Wyatt was dismissed. (The answer appears to be “No”, by the way.)
Following Wyatt’s departure, England’s Run Rate dropped off somewhat, as the worm shows:
Having been going at almost 11-an-over, they dropped back to a little over 7, and a total that had been heading for well over 200 fell back to “just” 185.
It was still plenty enough of course – Pakistan’s highest ever score in a T20 is 177 – that was in Kuala Lumpur too, but versus lowly Malaysia, and against England their top order pretty-much folded in the face of the size of the ask in front of them. Aside from a battling 38 off 35 balls from Iram Javed, the only other positive they could really take is that the tail clung on to “go the distance” as they finished 9 down.
So England will be happy… but could they be happier? Should they have got closer to 210-220?
It is normal of course for players to take a few balls to “get themselves in”, but Sciver and Knight chewed-up 14 balls between them at a Strike Rate of less than 75 – that’s two-and-a-bit overs, which could be crucial in a big semi or final in Australia next year. So how could this be addressed?
The Telegraph’s Women’s Sport section’s list of Women of the Year, published this week, included an interesting name I’d never heard of: Sherylle Calder. Calder has (as far as I can see) never played top-level sport, but she’s on the list because she worked with England’s men’s rugby team at this year’s World Cup in Japan as a “vision specialist” – improving the players’ hand-eye coordination, among other approaches by using a specially developed set of video “games” called EyeGym.
A top player would never dream of going out to bat without warming-up her body, and they might take a few “throw-downs” as well to get the feel of leather on willow, but could the use of something like EyeGym help to get their vision closer to “the zone” before they have to actually face a ball in anger?
It wouldn’t be a cure-all – there’s lots you can’t account for, especially the pitch – but in a game of fine margins, it might be worth a run or two an over; and while that might not have mattered against Pakistan today, against Australia at the MCG next spring, it could be all the difference in the world.