Having started the day with zero points and a negative Net Run Rate of -0.16, following defeat to South Africa in their opening game, England turned things around in Canberra, getting two points on the board against Thailand, and perhaps equally importantly boosting their Net Run Rate to a whopping 2.38 positive.
The result puts England temporarily top of Group B, albeit with the West Indies, South Africa and Pakistan all having games in hand; and leaves them in a much healthier position should semi-final qualification come down to Net Run Rate.
England went into the match with an unchanged side, with Heather Knight having definitively ruled-out a u-turn on either the policy of playing 8 batsmen, or the that of batting their most consistent player of recent times – Tammy Beaumont – right down the order in a “closer” role which means she faces at best only a handful of deliveries.
Today she faced none at all, as Heather Knight took charge with a commanding hundred, which put paid to any hopes Thailand might have had of an upset after getting both openers out for ducks.
The recent form of Amy Jones in particular has been called into question after a pretty miserable Ashes last summer, but she did make two big T20 scores – 53 off 39 balls, and 89 off 52 – against Pakistan; and the bottom line is that she is essentially undroppable anyway, unless England want to hand the wicket-keeping gloves to Tammy Beaumont, which they really don’t, so they might as well continue to play her in her preferred position. (It isn’t like she’s chewing up deliveries – she is at least making runs or getting out.)
Wyatt also made runs against Pakistan, and given the damage we know she can do at the top of the order she also needs to stay where she is. By moving her down England would be depriving themselves of the one player they have capable of causing real carnage in a semi or final against an India or an Australia.
Getting back to today… Knight battered the Thais with 13 fours and 4 sixes, finishing with 108 off 66 balls – a Strike Rate of 164. As is often the case with Knight it wasn’t particularly pretty, but more of a professional demolition job that put put a wrecking ball through the scorecard, and taking England to a total of 176.
This was always going to be too much for Thailand whose highest ever score is 133, against the Netherlands last summer. They haven’t posted a score in excess of 100 since, despite qualifying for this tournament in that time, and today wasn’t going to be that day either. England’s spinners – Sophie Ecclestone and Sarah Glenn – both recorded Economy Rates under 3 as the Thais were held to 78-7 in their 20 overs. They didn’t shut-up shop, as we’ve sometimes seen from the minnows in these kinds of situations, so credit to them for trying to play some shots and still “going the distance” but they were still as definitively outplayed by England with the ball as they had been with the bat.
England still have work to do – beating the tournament’s lowest-ranked side is not in itself a reason to break out the champagne, but Heather Knight herself perhaps deserves a glass or two tonight after joining the “Hundred Club” in international T20s and getting England’s World Cup campaign back on track.
In terms of “recent times” in T20, Tammy Beaumont is not England’s most consistent batsman. I grant you “recent times” is subjective but over their respective last T20 10 innings :-
Beaumont : Runs 164; Avg 20.5; Sdev 15.53
Wilson : Runs 160; Avg 22.85 Sdev 10.83
Sciver : Runs 218; Avg 24.33 Sdev 18.12
(and the above doesn’t include Sciver’s innings today).
So, Wilson is the most consistent (lowest Sdev – but then 10 ducks would give you a fantastic Sdev) but Sciver is the most consistently good (best average, best aggregate)
“their most consistent player of recent times – Tammy Beaumont”
Well this depends on ones definition of ‘recent’ and the scope of the formats.
Taking T20 formats and the last 10 innings that a given player has batted in then Beaumont is not the most consistent:-
Wyatt : Runs=154; Avg=15.40
Beaumont: Runs=164; Avg=20.50
Wilson : Runs=160; Avg=22.85
Jones : Runs=242; Avg=24.20
Sciver: Runs=249; Avg=27.66 (clearly love not affecting her batting!)
Knight: Runs=376; Avg=31.31
[Strictly speaking I should include Standard Deviation because this is the best measure of consistency but I’ve assumed ‘consistent player’ meant the consistently best player. 10 consecutive ducks gives one a fantastic standard deviation]
The above is published for interest only, not to make a point. Especially in T20, there are a whole load of factors one has to take into account to get a true measure (eg batting position, scoring rate, circumstances of the match, quality of opposition, bad luck etc).
Is the Pakistan result good news for England ? Well that depends whether one expects South Africa to win all their matches and Thailand to lose all theirs. If this indeed happens then England are in a 3 way scrap for 2nd with WI & Pakistan and England’s critical match is now Pakistan, rather than WI. If England lose to Pakistan then Pakistan only have to beat Thailand to qualify (if Pakistan had lost to WI, then England could have afforded to lose to Pakistan but still get 2nd on NRR by beating WI). Of course if SA slip up and/or Thailand win a match, then the above is irrelevant and all hell breaks loose in the group.
England did everything that could have been asked of them – certainly for 38 overs of the game. You’re always on something of a hiding to nothing against “developing” opponents.
Knight in her current form is, in my opinion, not very far short of Lanning as a batsman. It’s no surprise to me that she’s the first woman to score a hundred in all three formats. She has the temperament and the game to adapt to the different needs and rhythms of each – able to play on both sides of the wicket, go through or over the infield, yet never slog.
Jones is a concern. I fear that in a poor run of form she shrinks within herself so that she is inhibited, and any effort to hit her way out of trouble is that bit less than totally committed, hence many of her dismissals are “soft”.
Wyatt I’m less bothered about. Its “the way she plays” and England are willing to roll those particular dice. I’m absolutely convinced, though, that she’s suffered through the inability of Jones and her to effectively rotate the strike. So far in two games she’s been out there for a total of 35 balls, of which she’s faced 6. She’s fretted at the other end, itching to get on with it, and certainly today was just that bit too impatient to get on with it.
Maybe disappointing that we didn’t bowl them out, but Thailand weren’t out there to take risks. On a fairly benign pitch it’s not easy to shift batsmen with that mindset.
And Pakistan! Unrecognisable from the tourists of 2016. That’s opened things up splendidly. Its potentially a three-way battle for one qualification spot (one has to assume that South Africa will not lose twice). This tournament is bubbling nicely…
Well it started badly but turned out well in the end. Both Jones and Wyatt were sent trudging back early, looking thoroughly disconsolate, but they didn’t really give themselves a chance. One of the (possibly many) issues with playing 8 batsmen is that the openers feel under pressure to start scoring straight away, so are more likely to play rashly rather than play themselves in (just for a few balls, in this format). England already have a tendency in that direction, so this tactic makes little sense.
But Knight and Sciver exuded an air of sheer calm in comparison. So determined and focused were they that England never looked back and set some impressive records, like the highest T20 international partnership, and Knight’s superb maiden T20i hundred. Perhaps most telling of all though is the fact that Knight is the first England cricketer to score hundreds in all 3 international formats. This shows how adaptable she is, equally capable of grinding out a slow, determined Test century as blasting 108* off 66 balls in T20i. This innings, packed with powerful sweep shots and sweet timing, was a brilliant performance from her.
England followed it up with a professional performance in the field. England’s pace bowlers in particular looked too much for the Thais to handle, and they were left looking mostly just bewildered by Brunt, Shrubsole and Sciver. Very few risks were taken against Ecclestone and Glenn, who were both great again.
I still think England’s batting order needs to change. A player as good as Beaumont can’t be left to so late in the innings. At least move her up above Brunt and Wilson. Winfield is also wasted at 8. And the issue of a fidgety Wyatt not facing enough early balls could be eased by her taking first delivery and Jones being no.2.
I thought that Pakistan might be too strong for West Indies and it proved the case, with the latter having a very ordinary day with both bat and ball. They bowled especially poorly in the powerplay, with a lot of short stuff and width offered and gratefully accepted by Pakistan, who had been much tighter in their lines. It was notable that Dottin was absent from the Windies attack, having looked one of their most threatening bowlers in the 2018 edition. It will be interesting to see what happens in the remaining WI/SA/Pakistan match-ups – these could all be very close and I’m not sure that SA will come out on top in both matches. Are they consistent enough to follow up the excellent performance vs. England? Regardless they should not lose both games, so look well set to qualify this time barring disaster
It’s been remarkable to see so far in the tournament how far the lower ranked sides like Sri Lanka and Pakistan have come. They can now give the top ranked sides a real challenge. It can only be good for the women’s game internationally. Friday’s match against Pakistan now looks huge and England must hold their nerve, as they showed they were capable of today.
Professional display from England (That’s the word you use when you beat a team far inferior to your own?!) That was a peak Heather Knight innings, no fuss, finding the gaps, scoring at really good strike rate yet never feeling like she’s scoring that quickly. It’s nice that she finally got to a century after so many near misses in the last couple of years. I still think she’s taken for granted a bit as a batter.
Obvious concerns over Jones and Wyatt, both dismissals were that of out of form players trying to force the situation. I can’t see changes being made to the batting order so both need to take a few balls and play themselves in. Doesn’t matter if they’re 1 from 12, both have the ability to catch up later in the innings. Also rotate the strike, don’t always go for the big shot.
Brilliant win for Pakistan, the result perhaps wasn’t a huge shock but the manner of victory certainly was. It suddenly puts more pressure on England on Friday and while Pakistan didn’t really look like winning any of the T20’s in December, they showed enough that they could cause England some problems and they definitely have a chance if they could put some pressure on England.
It looks like a three way tussle between England, West Indies and Pakistan but West Indies have the talent to beat South Africa which would make things even more interesting.
In the other group, India v New Zealand should be an absolute cracker. India are the favourites but they have a tendency to throw in an awful performance out of nowhere. If New Zealand win tomorrow, Australia could be a lot of trouble!