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.