A battling half-century from Maddy Green got New Zealand home in a chase that looks easier on the scorecard than it was at the ground.
Until today, in a 9-year international career, Green had never passed 50 against a “Top 8” team – her two previous highest scores of 122 and 50 both coming against Ireland on the “Tour Of A Trillion Tons” in 2018.
Coming to the crease at 12-1 in the 5th over, Green fought through 40 overs, finishing 70* off 106 balls, to carry the White Ferns to only their second ODI win in 2 years – a period in which they have lost 13 one day games.
A late assault from Lea Tahuhu, who smashed Tash Farrant for consecutive 4s and then finished it off with a 6, meant that the Kiwi’s margin of victory was 25 balls; but it was a closer run thing than that suggests. England kept plugging away, and when Katherine Brunt took the wicket of Hayley Jensen to leave New Zealand 7 down with still 21 required, it looked like England might just pull off one of history’s great escapes; but Tahuhu was having none of it – Green actually barely got a look-in at the death, with Tahuhu scoring all but 3 of the remaining runs.
It was in a way poetic that Tahuhu finished it off, having started it earlier in the day with a wonderful spell of controlled fast… ish bowling. She didn’t bowl with the pace she is legendary for, but she pitched it up on a track with little carry, and bowled tight lines to send England’s top order tumbling, taking 4-20 in the powerplay, and then coming back later to put the icing on the cake with a 5th – her first international 5fer in a decade-long, 128-match career.
The credit goes to Tahuhu, of course; but the other side of the coin is that England’s batters look exhausted after the longest summer of their careers. From the start of the domestic season back in May, there was then a long series against India, including the Test; followed by The Hundred, which was somehow a much more intensive competition to play than the KSL. Adding on a September series with 3 T20s and then 5 ODIs – two more than “normal” – feels like the straw that has broken the batter’s backs.
We now move on to Derby, where New Zealand have a chance to square up the series and set up a decider at the weekend. England’s challenge will be to pick themselves up again for one last push; while New Zealand have a real opportunity to upset England’s slightly knackered-looking apple cart.
Whatever the politics, England will be mightily relieved in retrospect that they don’t now have to travel to Pakistan next month – that feels like it really would have been a bridge too far, and is something the ECB will need to consider when they try to reschedule that series for 2022. These players didn’t grow up as professionals, and we still have to account for that in what we ask of them, or we’ll end up with a lot more days like today.
Missed the fielding innings but have just emerged from work delighted that New Zealand held their nerve and biffed it over the line! Richly deserved! I’m not wildly tribal about cricket but I do absolutely support England (well, till Uganda break the top 10 one fine, misty-eyed day) and honestly don’t think it would have really served them well to make another great escape after a batting show like that. Bat like that and you WILL get soundly beaten. Come on England, as Mufasa said in the clouds, ‘Remember who you are!’ If tired box calm and clever and win this series properly!
(Also, far be it for me to tell them what to do but I’d give Brunt the rest of the series off)
The issue of fatigue is worth raising but I’d further point out that England have, relative to many countries, a large pool of players to pick from, many of whom have not spent their summer playing international cricket, yet are essentially international standard. Wilson, Elwiss, Davidson-Richards, George, the Smiths (Bryony and Linsey), Gordon, Lamb and Bouchier. They also have players who have played exceptionally well this year but have not even made a squad (eg Eve Jones, Alice Capsey to name but two). England could almost put out 2 teams and still perform respectably at world level.
With all those options available, is one left to conclude that the team management either don’t think the players are knackered or think a chop-n-change policy is not a good idea with The Ashes and World Cup getting large on their horizon ?
Knackered or not, England are still leading 2-1 ……. which is slightly better than being knackered and losing 2-1 and they still look like they have enough to win the series (after which, with Pakistan tour having gone ‘up the Kyber’, they can rest).
The loss of the Pakistan tour has a benefit beyond resting England players. We all get to play the ‘who will make The Ashes squad’ game for whole of October, not just part of it !
Congratulations to Brunt on that 300th international wicket – which does sound like a reason for feeling tired.
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I stayed up stupidly late on Sunday night (NZ time) – first to finish a work project, then to follow the cricket. I went to bed during the rain delay. “Surely the White Ferns can’t lose from here!” I thought, knowing all too well that they could … and they duly did, albeit with a little help from the gentlemen with the calculators.
So imagine my delight this morning when I woke up to find that, this time, we hadn’t bottled it! It was great to see Maddy Green deliver on the promise she’s shown for so long, and even better to see a superb performance with bat as well as ball from Lea Tahuhu. This is the kind of resilience and depth the Ferns will need for the tournaments ahead.
On another note, I think Darcie Brown might be a seriously good find for Australia – and it was great to see Molly Penfold have a successful debut for NZ.
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Amazing performance from Brunt, but it wasn’t enough as NZ were just too good for an England side so far below par with the bat that the lower order are batting for much longer than the top order.
The mental fatigue of a long season is taking its toll on England’s batters I think. The team aren’t lacking fitness, or energy in the field, so I do think it’s more mental then physical tiredness. How is this manifested – well exactly what we’ve seen – some lapses in concentration, poor shot selection, lack of application and lots of nervousness. The batting is just not up to scratch at the moment. The players are better than this.
I think the 5 matches are a bridge or two too far – 3 would have been sufficient. What with so much domestic cricket now streamed or televised, there is the sense of constant increased scrutiny of the player’s performances. And this year it hasn’t let up since April or May really. Previously some players could slip off to the relative anonymity of a quiet County game or two every few weeks but that luxury has been taken away now. It might be something the team management need to think about next year – a couple of mini-breaks for the players or increased squad rotation.
Maybe England could bat second for a change, that might shake things up a bit. Overall it’s been a very good summer, but there have been signs that too much has been asked of some players. The team management need to get the balance right.
With your title for this article, the pun opportunities are rife , Syd! What with England’s Green Day nearly turning me into a Basket Case, and Penfold really being NZ’s Dangermouse, You can tell the season is reaching its end!