It’s not often that you lose 10 wickets and win the match – England have been bowled out 93 times in ODIs, and they won just 12 of those games – but this was one such time.
England were not the favourites at the innings break, having been bowled out for 241, albeit in the final over. Tammy Beaumont played a gorgeous cover drive early-doors, but it proved not to be a sign of things to come, as England’s batters found it difficult to get going. Beaumont scored 44 runs at a Strike Rate of under 60; while Heather Knight scored the bulk of her runs at a Strike Rate of around 75, only pushing on right at the end – lifting her Strike Rate well over 100 to hit her last 24 runs at 130.
At the 40 over mark, England looked set for a very sub-par 220, which would have made the game much more interesting from New Zealand’s point of view; but the last 10 overs turned things around quite a bit in the context of the match.
It was a very odd final phase of the innings, at least in terms of women’s ODIs, though I think this may be a more common pattern in men’s cricket (???) – England lost their last 5 wickets, which usually means a slump in the run rate, but still managed to hit 67 runs in the last 10 overs – by far their most productive phase of the game.
Nonetheless, even 241 didn’t feel like a par score. Much of the credit has to go to a very disciplined performance from New Zealand, with the ball and in the field. They might not have taken a heap of early wickets, but they bowled tightly and didn’t give much away. The Kiwi’s relay fielding on the boundary was a particular highlight, and something they really have got down to a fine art.
Earlier in the summer, we saw a few times that India would have two fielders chasing the ball on the boundary, but with neither sure what the other was planning to do, both would back out of the dive and the ball would run over the rope between them.
What New Zealand are doing firstly is communicating, so both fielders know which one of them is going to dive, and which will make the throw in; and then executing smoothly so that the diving fielder scoops up the ball and passes it up in one movement to the thrower, who is already in position to carry-through with the throw. It is almost like a rugby play, and I wonder if the cultural dominance of that sport in New Zealand is a factor in helping them visualise this move?
It was going to take a big day out with the ball for England to win the match against the odds, and that’s exactly what they produced, Katherine Brunt leading the way with a remarkable four consecutive maidens in the powerplay. It was a very different Katherine Brunt to the one we’ve seen recently too – this was “Back To Basics” bowling – good pace, pitching it up, bowling at the stumps, forcing the New Zealand openers to defend, defend, and defend some more. This is how Katherine Brunt used to bowl, back in the day when she was making her fearsome reputation; and it was where the game was won and lost really – leaving New Zealand so far behind where they needed to be, that even though they went at a reasonable rate in the middle overs, more so than England had done, they never caught up.
It wasn’t just Brunt though – the rest of the bowling unit needed to deliver, and they did. Nat Sciver bowled 5 overs (the number of overs she probably should be bowling in an ODI) taking 2-10; while Kate Cross and Sophie Ecclestone too bowled economically and took a couple of wickets apiece.
Charlie Dean, on debut, also acquitted herself well – better than it looks from her figures, because although she was slightly expensive, she bowled a lot of balls to Amy Satterthwaite and Lea Tahuhu at the end, when Tahuhu was having a ‘Why not?’ crack at the England attack.
It will be interesting to see where England go from here with Dean. They have been very keen to tell anyone who’ll listen that they are just “having a look” rather than buying, but this is a very intensive series, with 5 ODIs in 11 days, so they are almost certainly going to need to juggle things around a little bit, and my guess is that she’ll have at least one more game in which to stake a claim for a ticket to Australia and New Zealand this winter. There is still plenty of time for her – she is the first player born post-Y2K to play for England – but age shouldn’t be a barrier either – if she’s good enough, she’s good enough. (See also… you know who!!)