Tammy Beaumont’s brilliant run of form in ODIs continued, as England put India to the sword in Bristol. In four ODIs this year (three in New Zealand plus this one versus India) she has scored 318 runs at an average of… wait for it… 318! (She hasn’t been dismissed in an ODI since the 1st match in New Zealand.)
She was in imperious form today – she made 87 off 87 balls, and was only denied what looked like a certain century by Nat Sciver coming in and clattering 74 off 74 balls. As well as employing her trade-mark sweeps and ramps, Beaumont also rolled-back the years by bringing out the punched drive down the ground, that was her key productive shot earlier in her career.
There was some talk during the innings break about “low scoring games” but this never really looked like one of those. As Beaumont and Sciver showed, there were plenty of runs out there today – it was just that India didn’t really look like they wanted them until it was far too late.
As the Manhattans show, India can actually boast the most productive “phase” of the game, when they finally woke up in the last 10 overs and pulled 67 runs out of the hat – 6 more than England made in their initial powerplay. But the damage was already done. In the first 30 overs, they had scored at a Run Rate of just 3.0, and that’s simply not enough in any form of cricket these days.
Looking at the raw scorecard, you might think Mithali played the captain’s innings, but the truth is that she was actually the problem. Having come in during the 10th over, she reached the 30-over mark languishing on 23 off a whopping 63 balls – a Strike Rate of 37. Yes she caught up, to finish on 72 off 108 balls (a Strike Rate of 67) but she’d left her teammates (and herself) with far too much to do at the back-end of the innings. India’s final total of 201 was a good 50 under par; and though they probably still wouldn’t have won the game with 250, given Beaumont’s (and Sciver’s) form, they could at least have made England work for it!
It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that Mithali has been left behind by the modern era. While players like Tammy have adapted their games, she has stood still. She has two more ODIs in this series to turn things around, but if not… if India want a real shot at the World Cup in New Zealand next year, she needs to make way – she has been treading water for far too long; and the worry has to be that she is now no longer waving, but drowning.
I would make some additional points.
First, this match appears to be a continuation of the recent NZ v ENG and IND v SA series. Ever since the infamous Sydney weather cost England, and gifted India, a place in the WT20I World Cup final, England has played brilliantly and India has been woeful. The similarly weather-induced outcome of the recent Test match at Bristol served only to mask that contrast.
Secondly, Raj is not the only problem. Kaur is another, and Rodrigues yet another: she had a horrendous WT20I World Cup. Raf has suggested that Raj should be replaced by Rodrigues, but I don’t see that as a solution.
Then there’s the bowling. Goswami and Pandey are both very fine bowlers, but neither of them has been performing as well as their veteran Englad counterparts. Additionally, India’s experiment in replacing Pandey for the home series against South Africa didn’t bear fruit.
Sometimes, as was the case during the last women’s Ashes series, we cricket fans just have to accept that one of the teams in a bilateral series is clearly better than the other one, and hope for a more even contest next time.
To put a different perspective (which means it is not necessarily my point of view)
Raj is Raj. She bats in a certain way and won’t change. She is a serene, low energy player. The Indian team know this and their role is to score fast and leave her to anchor the innings. If they had scored at a run a ball in this match India would have made 259.
At 38 it’s not her fault that, despite her batting style, there have not been enough younger talent for her to lose her place for this tour.
How would Raj look in an England batting line-up ?
Raj’s ODI career scoring rate is 66.39 (with an average of over 50 !)
Charlotte Edward’s (the only truly comparable player due to sheer longevity) was 66.56
Winfield’s is 66.54
Heather Knight’s is ‘only’ 71.67 with Beaumont on 73.37 (although I suspect her early career has affected her career scoring rate in a negative way)
Sciver is on a different planet on 97.35
so, Raj’s ODI scoring rate is not abysmal.
With an average that high though surely you’d expect Raj’s strike rate to be a bit higher? The other players spend more time with lower runs scored so won’t be as “in”. She doesn’t seem to catch up much after making 50, which she often does.
That should have read “India would have made 264”, not 259. Oops.
Exceptional from England, and Beaumont especially. She’s in unreal form at the moment, as you point out. Sciver brilliant too. I actually think this series could be more even, if India’s faster scoring batters stayed in for longer. Verma played what looked like it should have been a shot to the last ball in a T20 not the 5th over of an ODI. And Mandhana was undone by a bit of a jaffer from Shrubsole but kind of played all around it. Strange dismissals really for openers. The short ball worked well but let’s not overuse it as it’s easy to get obsessed with it rather than just good lines and lengths. I still have a feeling India will come back at some point.
The Clanger does have a point. It is possible to construct a successful WODI or WT20I team around a batter who plays an anchoring role. For several years, Ellyse Perry, and to a lesser extent Rachael Haynes, has played that role in the Australian team. However, to succeed with that sort of structure in the 2020s, you also need several batters like Alyssa Healy, Beth Mooney, or Meg Lanning, preferably all in good form. The only Indian player who clearly fits that bill at the moment is Shafali Verma.