TRI-SERIES: England v Australia – Sting In The Tayla As England Sunk By Vlaeminck

At the halfway point of today’s match, it looked a fairly safe bet that England had it sewn up, and that Australia were about to fail to make the final of a tri-series in their premier format, played on home soil. England’s bowlers put on a disciplined display in the main, to restrict Australia to just 132-7 (though Anya Shrubsole’s 3 overs cost 35 runs – is the foot injury which saw her MIA earlier in the series still bothering her?)

It was another poor effort with the bat from Australia – certainly given the high standards we have come to expect from them over the past 18 months. Alyssa Healy fell hook, line and sinker into the trap that England set for her, holing out to deep midwicket in the first over of the day, continuing her miserable run of form. Meg Lanning, who since the summer has inexplicably dropped down from number 3 to 4 in the line-up, again looked uncomfortable out in the middle. There were some odd murmurings on commentary that she “doesn’t like to bat in the powerplay” – if true, this is a bizarre hang-up from someone who just 6 months ago was doing this.

After Australia’s loss to India yesterday, Ash Gardner described the series as “a good learning curve. These games don’t matter as much as what the World Cup is going to matter. This tri-series is all about trying different things.” Is this bravado or have Australia actually been treating this series less seriously than the other teams? In their 4 matches, they’ve not played the same XI once; and there doesn’t seem to have been much rhyme or reason to the continual switch-ups.

Tayla Vlaeminck, for example, has only featured in 2 of the 4 matches. Today, though, it was the young quick who starred. Not only did she pick up the wickets of both Danni Wyatt and Amy Jones in the powerplay, but she bowled with such venom and pace that she forced England to sit back and “see her off”. Sophie Molineux may have picked up 3-19 and the Player of the Match award but it was Vlaeminck who effectively “bought” those wickets by piling on the scoreboard pressure early on. Why hasn’t she been playing every match?

If it is the case that Australia are viewing this series as glorified net practice, that’s actually quite worrying for England – if Australia can beat them when they’re only firing at 50%, it doesn’t bode well for the forthcoming World Cup. Arguably, there isn’t much that England can change up at this distance from the tournament – they seem pretty set on playing 8 batsmen and heavily relying on Nat Sciver’s bowling to see them right; and they certainly won’t be changing their opening partnership, or abandoning the “Tammy Beaumont at 6” strategy, this close to the World Cup.

On the basis of today’s performance, the one thing that might make sense is dropping Shrubsole in favour of the much more economical Freya Davies. It would be a brave call by Heather Knight and Lisa Keightley, though if they wanted to save face they could always blame it on her foot injury. We’ll have to wait and see what the preferred approach is, come 23 February at the WACA.

4 thoughts on “TRI-SERIES: England v Australia – Sting In The Tayla As England Sunk By Vlaeminck

  1. As your article after the Eng/Ind match predicted; self-inflicted and avoidable elimination on NRR.

    Captain Knight has enhanced her reputation as the most boring interviewee with “We didn’t quite adapt with the bat”, although in fairness she is probably only just behind a string of other captains, who rarely say anything remotely interesting after a match.

    Despite missing out on the final (and we’ll just brush under the carpet the Aussie’s ‘practice prep’ approach), at least we’ve discovered any of these 3 can beat each other on any given day. Makes for an interesting World Cup.

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  2. Regarding Lanning, I took ‘doesn’t like’ batting in the powerplay as a reference to tactics, not Lanning personally having difficulty in the powerplay. i.e. she wants to make sure she’s available in the middle overs.

    Plenty of Australia’s line up are capable of teeing off in the powerplay, whereas not as many are as adept as Lanning at maintaining the run rate in the middle stretch of the innings.

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  3. Shall have to watch the highlights but from what I’ve read it was a very good bowling performance and a disappointing batting one. We’re always struggling after Wyatt and Jones getting out too early every game. Middle order rescued us numerous times but openers simply too gung-ho. Personally I think the opening pair needs to be changed but only other viable option would appear to be Twinfield, or a variation thereof.

    Strange how the sides in this tri series have sort of flipped between good and bad game to game. After the Aussies bowled poorly and wayyyy too full in the power play against India they were obviously much better here. I’ve always liked the way Vlaeminck plays so glad she’s finally getting some games.

    I’ve never known an Aussie side not desperate to win every match so I take the “this was an experiment” idea with a grain of salt.

    Hope India can pull off a win in the final, good luck to them.

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  4. The chase was still going relatively OK until about the 10th over, then chaos ensued as Sciver holed out, both Knight and Wilson were stumped coming down the pitch to the spinners and Beaumont played an inappropriate reverse to a ball too close to leg stump.

    After that, Brunt and Winfield did a reasonable job at finding respectability from what could have been a sub-100 nightmare, but I still feel that we should have reached the secondary NRR target really. They finished some way off that, and both were guilty of trying to over-hit the ball at times, and struggled to time it, but Australia did bowl well.

    The best I’ve seen us play spin was in the last T20 world cup in 2018 when Sciver and Jones had a brilliant partnership against India in the semi. There were fewer dances down the wicket and fewer fancy sweeps but more staying back, watching the ball and playing it late, hitting the boundary riders hard. This was not like that at all. If we’re going to come down the wicket don’t do it to the faster spinners as much, and make sure to always go towards the ball. You also need to be able to just deflect it if the shot’s not there. It’s a risky shot and one often over-used by England when the risk sometimes doesn’t pay off.

    England have plenty of spinners and left-arm spinners in particular (loopy, faster, etc) to practice against so there’s little excuse to not have a better plan against them, and what they might try in different situations. So England have had a decent first three-quarters of a game here, but there’s a lot to work on before the T20 WC starts.

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