England once again showed the breadth of batting talent currently available to them in their 26-run win against Pakistan today, with the top 5 all making decent contributions to complete a tour clean-sweep across both the ODI and T20 formats.
It’s been one of the hallmarks of this tour that it hasn’t been the same batsmen making all the running, with Tammy Beaumont, Danni Wyatt and Nat Sciver all adding to their century tallies, and Amy Jones, Heather Knight and Fran Wilson all falling just short of doing so with scores in the 80s. Wilson, whose place was in some doubt after missing out for much of last summer, has had a particularly good time of it; and shared an important late partnership with Beaumont in today’s game, the pair adding 44 runs across the last 4 overs of the England innings after things had stalled a bit in the middle period.
It looks a fairly safe bet that these 6 – Beaumont, Wyatt, Sciver, Jones, Knight and Wilson – will now make up the core of England’s batting in the forthcoming WWT20, with Lauren Winfield – who did get an outing today but unfortunately for her didn’t actually make it to the middle – looking like she will miss out.
The real question, then, is over the batting order. The thinking seems to be that we should expect the unexpected, with no one player “nailed on” to come in at number 3, even in similar match situations. In the first T20, with England losing their first wicket in over 4, Beaumont did the job; while today, with the first wicket going down in the 5th over, Knight was tasked with the role and Beaumont dropped down to number 5. Remarks on commentary suggest this is a deliberate strategy, designed to ensure maximum flexibility. It’s certainly an interesting approach, though I’m not sure I agree with relegating the best batsman (a title to which Beaumont certainly has a claim) to number 5.
With the ball, Sarah Glenn has enjoyed a memorable first tour in England colours, and continued her honeymoon period by picking up another couple of wickets in today’s game. Of course the real test – Australia in home conditions in February – still awaits her; but Knight has shown good faith in giving her a decent run to start her career, with signs that England might prefer to have a leg spinner in their armoury rather than a second leftie (Kirstie Gordon remaining on the bench for the whole tour).
Ahead of the tour we thought Pakistan had a decent shot at sneaking a win past England, but in truth they never really came close to a winning position in any of the 6 matches – credit to England for never taking their foot off the pedal. Of the Pakistani bowlers, Diana Baig had a good tour, with England struggling to score against her throughout; she finished up with a couple of wickets today, dismissing both Wyatt and Knight with some clever variations in pace. Leggie Syeda Shah, who made her debut in the T20 series, looks like a good bet for the future at just 15 years old. Pakistan’s main concern should be their batting – with Sana Mir MIA, Bismah Maroof was left to score the vast weight of the runs (24%), the rest of the order showing a worrying tendency to crumble around her.
Overall, England probably got out of the tour everything they could have hoped for – some decent match time (only one of the matches rain-affected in the end), a chance to expose their younger players to international cricket in a relatively low-stakes series, and the opportunity for their batsmen (still bruised after the heavy loss to Australia) to regain some confidence ahead of the World Cup.