England strolled to a comfortable victory against Pakistan in Canberra, keeping their World Twenty20 campaign on track for a spot in the semi-finals next week in Sydney.
It was Heather Knight who walked off with the Player of the Match medal for the second time in succession, having scored 62 off 47 balls; but it was England’s performance with the ball that was most impressive under lights at the Manuka Oval.
England did a job with the bat, but it wasn’t the perfect performance by any stretch – their run-rate flat-lining at 8 runs per over through the middle overs, despite having wickets in hand. It was the perfect opportunity to showcase their new “Closing” strategy, but it didn’t really come off, and they ended up scrambling round in a bit of a panic at the end, losing 4 wickets in the last 3 overs.
Of course, it was plenty enough to win the match; but largely thanks to some brilliant bowling and fielding. This World Cup has not been a great showcase for the fielding side of the game (we’re looking at you in particular, West Indies) but England were really sharp tonight. Yes, Lauren Winfield put down a very tough chance; but England’s ring fielding was top-notch and probably saved 10-15 runs in the powerplay alone – that doesn’t sound like much, but it could easily be the difference between winning and losing a World Cup final.
And then there was Sarah Glenn.
Glenn hasn’t quite come from nowhere. In 2018 she was mentioned in dispatches after a brilliant bowling performance for Loughborough Lightning against the Vipers; and by 2019 she was rated 5th overall in our KSL Bowling Rankings, after taking 11 wickets at 6.05. But nevertheless, her England selection for the tour to play Pakistan in Malaysia at the tail-end of last year was definitely a surprise.
Sophie Ecclestone was obviously long-established in the team by this stage, and rated by many as one of (if not the) best left-arm slow bowler in the world; but the search for her perfect spinning partner on the field had been a long and not entirely fruitful one, taking in the likes of Linsey Smith, Bryony Smith and Kirstie Gordon along the way.
So the question was: was Glenn finally Ecclestone’s “Miss Right”?
Well, after 12 internationals, I think we can finally say that the slipper is fitting pretty well, and she was fantastic today, taking 3-15 at 3.75.
As she freely acknowledges, she is not the spinniest spinner: “I don’t naturally get as much turn,” she admitted today. But what she does do is stick to her plans and bowl stump-to-stump with unerring consistency. And it sounds like the England coaching staff are doing the right thing too: “They don’t throw a load of stuff at me, telling me to change this, change that – they’ve just told me to keep it quite simple.”
Cricket can be a complicated game, but if what works for you is keeping it simple, then keep it simple! And if Glenn can continue to do so, then she and Ecclestone have got a beautiful future ahead of them.