The T20 series between England and the West Indies at Derby kicked off with a 47 run victory for England; and for once “kicked off” feels like the right phrase, because like a football match, this was a game of two halves – the first “half”, a half century from Tammy Beaumont; the second, a half-ars*d batting performance from the Windies.
Back at the top of the order, Beaumont underlined her status as England’s premier batsman. The numbers in T20 don’t quite back up this claim – Danni Wyatt and Nat Sciver have both scored a few more runs. However, that was partly because Beaumont spent most of last winter coming in down the order, not because anyone really thought it was the best place for her to be batting, but in order to try to find a position for Amy Jones where Jones might score more consistent runs.
Having ditched that experiment in what turned out to be the last game of the World Cup in Australia, England seem to have accepted now that those consistent runs probably aren’t going to come from Jones, so allowing TB to return to the opening role she clearly prefers.
It wasn’t quite a text-book performance from Beaumont – she played and missed a few times early on, and was dropped in single-figures – but she took her breaks where they came, and made it count on the scorecard, with 62 off 49 balls.
The positive for the West Indies going forwards was that they did take 8 wickets – no other England batter made more than Heather Knight’s 25, and if Beaumont’s early luck had gone the Windies’ way instead, it could have been a very different story.
As it was, we quickly saw the now-familiar sight of a West Indies team which clearly didn’t believe they could chase 163. They really are The Little Engine That Couldn’t at times like these, repeating over and over the traditional mantra: “I think I can’t; I think I can’t!”
England’s fielding was very good, and Amy Jones was excellent behind the stumps. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Player of the Match given to a wicket keeper just for their keeping, but there was a case for it in this match, exemplified by her spin on ice-skates to execute the run out of Lee-Ann Kirby. Kirby’s wicket has gone down in the scorebook as “Run Out (Knight)” but it was a hospital pass of a throw from the England captain, with Jones doing all the work to make it count!
Mady Villiers was also brilliant in the outfield – we thought Wyatt was good out there, but Villiers really has taken it to a new level… and a good job too because she wasn’t given any other opportunity to contribute – coming in to bat at 10, and then not bowling. England seem to have always been confused about her role – Mark Robinson talked about her batting, but played her as a bowler; and now Lisa Keightley seems to be playing her as a specialist deep extra cover?
The big question now is whether the West Indies can turn things around. Dottin’s innings should give them some confidence that this series isn’t a lost cause yet, although if you’re being glass-half-empty you might observe that she didn’t actually really get going until the game was already gone – at the half way mark she was 22 off 26 balls, with them needing an improbable 12 an over through the last 10. For the sake of the game of cricket, you’d hope they can step things up on Wednesday and keep the series interesting; but you wouldn’t put money on it.
As for England, I’d be very surprised if they made any changes for Wednesday – as much as I’d like to see Sophia Dunkley and Freya Davies getting a proper run in the team, I don’t think we’ll see them now until at least the 4th match; so it will be more of the same… probably with the same result.