England strolled to another comfortable victory in the 3rd T20 by 32 runs, to take the rubber 3-0. Tammy Beaumont pocketed the Player of the Series cheque for $1,000, and Katherine Brunt drank up the Player of the Match champagne, after taking 2 wickets in the first over of New Zealand’s reply to England’s 128; but for me, “Sergeant” Fran Wilson was the key that unlocked England’s win today.
The home commentators described England as having “limped” to their total – but although they did lose 9 wickets, that really wasn’t the case at all, as the upwards trend line on England’s Manhattan shows.
Wilson, who came to the crease with 8 overs remaining, made 31 off 23 balls – the highest score, at by far the highest strike rate, of the match. Perhaps the only criticism you could lay on Wilson was that, like Tammy Beaumont in the 3rd ODI, she trusted England’s tail a little too much, and didn’t farm the strike as much as she might have done, facing under half of the 48 balls she spent in the middle.
That’s picking nits though. In order to understand Wilson’s contribution, just imagine what might have happened if she’d gotten out early – her 31 runs were almost exactly England’s margin of victory; and without them, England probably would have been bowled out too, which would have put the momentum squarely with New Zealand to win this match in very-much the fashion they did the 3rd ODI.
Indeed, at one stage it looked like they would win it in exactly the fashion they won the 3rd ODI – with Satterthwaite and Kerr set at the crease and going at pretty-much a run a ball, a repeat performance was on the cards, with the White Ferns ahead of the worm.
But neither Kerr nor Satterthwaite were able to stick around this time, and New Zealand fell away to 96 all out.
Fran Wilson wasn’t even supposed to play today – she only came in because Heather Knight sat out with a “minor” hamstring injury; and all the fuss in this series has been about getting an opportunity for Sophia Dunkley, who did indeed get her shot today, having not faced a ball in the first two T20s.
Dunkley didn’t disappoint either, making 26 off 29 balls, including the only six of the match; but it was Wilson’s contribution – just calmly getting on with it, running the singles hard, on a day when boundaries were the exception rather than the rule – which allowed England to build a winning total, which the White Ferns just didn’t have the batting to match.
In one sense, saying England ‘limped’ to 128 was true, as when New Zealand posted 123 in the 2nd T20, no one really thought it was enough. However, the confidence we have in England’s bowling attack is such that perhaps we always thought England would defend 128? Looking at the tour as a whole, Davies and Farrant perhaps two of the biggest pluses, with the latter illustrating that perhaps it will be possible for more players to re-gain their places in the team later in their careers now we have a more established professional structure. However, we might be unbeaten in 11 T20s, but what have we really learnt, especially given that none of these matches were against Australia? If I’m right, we won’t be playing the Aussies at T20 anytime soon either, with New Zealand (h), South Africa (h) and Pakistan (a) the next T20 opponents?
Very good series win from England. It was a bit of a scrappy batting display from England but despite the loss of wickets, what they did well was keep up a reasonable run rate and not get bogged down. The lower order are capable of putting quite a few extra runs on the board. Villiers and Davies are potentially very good for numbers 10 and 11 really. This game reminded me a bit of the final West Indies T20 last year when England just did enough to chase down the target in the rain-affected match despite throwing many wickets away. I think in the end England’s total may have been as little as 15 short of par, which was always going to need a good chase from NZ to reach.
England played the spin bowling more effectively than NZ did, with Ecclestone, Glenn & Villiers having field days and not being put under too much pressure. The biggest issue NZ had (and England’s dismissals of Ecclestone and Brunt) was recklessly advancing down the wicket to slower bowling but not heading directly towards the ball. Any dip or turn is then likely to be difficult to reach, if the ball is too far away, so you don’t have the fall back of blocking or nudging it away and getting back. It might be more of a percentage shot to stay at home and play off the back foot.
Wilson and Dunkley both played well. Both were a bit frantic at times, as was the entire match, but they certainly didn’t chew up many dot balls and generated a few extra runs by being so fast between the wickets. New Zealand, after a poor start, were really undone by England’s spin, but that last partnership was a bit of a thorn in the side that took a bit too long to remove really.
If it will be good for both sides for England to play Austrailia in T20 series more often, maybe some attempt should be made to arrange extra fixtures outside the context of an Ashes series. Maybe more of these tri-series things would help. The current trend for most-if-not-every match between the 2 sides outside world cups to be as part of an Ashes, really limits the chances for the sides to meet.