Despite what appeared at times to be the valiant efforts of both teams to get a consolation win on the board for the West Indies, England pulled off a 3 wicket victory with 3 balls to spare, in what we are reliably informed was not just the 5th T20, but also the 1st ever women’s international T5!
England finally gave an outing to Freya Davies – her 9th cap, but her first in England – and with Danni Wyatt absent, had originally planned for Sarah Glenn to open the batting until the weather intervened. I’m not convinced generally about the role of the “pinch hitter” in cricket… and not just because it is another term we’ve borrowed wrongly from baseball! (In baseball, a pinch hitter is a super-sub who comes on late in the game.) And in this case it felt like it was more about who England didn’t want to open, than who they did. (Heather Knight didn’t want to… Nat Sciver didn’t want to… they didn’t want Amy Jones to, so… ah… Sarah Glenn: do we have a “volunteer”?)
Of course, due to the shortened match, Glenn opening didn’t happen anyway – Knight and Sciver ended up doing it – with Tammy Beaumont relegated down the order again, because… no… I don’t really know either! It strikes me that if you are the right batter to open in T20, which TB is, you’re probably the right batter to open in T5 too; but people who know a lot more about cricket than I do would appear to disagree!
England had obviously been told to run like their lives depended on it, which led to 3 run-outs, including two in the final over which should have meant the pressure was really on England; but in the end it was West Indies bowler Shakera Selman who cracked – sending down consecutive no balls to get England over the line.
Thoughts on the T5 format? Overall I can’t agree with Lydia Greenway, who argued on comms that T10 is the ideal format for players to “showcase their skills”. Apart from the fact that she’d barely have faced a ball in her career if she’d been playing T10, for me the real skills in this game are a batter building an innings or a bowler setting ’em up before she knocks ’em down, and there is barely time for that in T20, let alone anything shorter. But as a one-off, T5 was certainly fun, partly because there was some genuine jeopardy for the first time in the series – a game that could have gone either way in the final over.
Reflecting briefly on the series as a whole, there’s obviously huge credit to the ECB for making this, and the RHF, happen. In the face of COVID-19 it would have been so easy to just shrug and let the entire women’s season go. It would have been painful, and we’d have fallen even further behind Australia, who have somewhat lucked-out with the timing of the worst of the global lockdown coming in their off-season, but honestly it would have been difficult to complain if that’s what had happened in the face of the crisis of our lives.
We’ve been lucky with the weather too – every game in the RHF and the international T20 series was completed, albeit it got a tad cold at times… especially for reporters covering the games from outdoor press gazebos! (I know… I know… FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS! The truth is that we were so lucky to have been there, and we really do appreciate that very much!)
England’s next international cricket isn’t until February now, when they travel to New Zealand for what we are officially calling ‘Not The World Cup!’; but a number of players are jetting off to WBBL, including Sarah Glenn. We all know now what Glenn can do with the ball, but it will be interesting to see if she gets much of an opportunity with the bat over in Perth. She batted only 12 times in 26 matches for Loughborough Lightning in the KSL, as she faced the perennial problem for a young player of having to play second-fiddle to the international superstars; but now she is the international superstar, so it would be great to see her have the chance to really polish her credentials as an allrounder, rather than just being chucked in at the deep end to open in a one-off, dead-rubber international.