ENGLAND v NEW ZEALAND: 1st ODI – Brunt Goes Back To Basics

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!!)

RHF TROPHY: Storm v Lightning – Storm Have A Luffly Day In Bristol

Sophie Luff top scored with 70 as Western Storm beat Lightning in Bristol, knocking Lightning out of the RHF Trophy.

Needing a win to maintain their slim hopes of qualification for the semi-final, Lightning won the toss and elected to insert their opponents on a sunny morning at the County Ground.

Fi Morris got off the mark with a lovely cut for 4 off Grace Ballinger, but otherwise it was a sedate start for Storm, with just 11 runs coming off the first 5 overs. However, Morris and Lauren Parfitt picked up the pace in the back-half of the powerplay to reach 10 overs at 38 without loss.

The introduction of Kirstie Gordon in the 11th over brought immediate results, with Morris dismissed for 25, adjudged LBW barely playing a shot to Gordon’s first ball.

The following over saw Parfitt joining Morris back in the shack – well caught over her head at backward point by Beth Harmer; and two shortly became three with Georgia Hennessy popping up a leading edge to offer Sophie Munro a straightforward catch off her own bowling, to leave Storm teetering on 42-3 with Alex Griffiths and Sophie Luff at the crease.

Yvonne Graves troubled both batters – the off-spinner getting some sharp turn off a hybrid pitch which looked to be a lot more “hybrid” than “pitch” at this stage of the season; though she did miss a chance to take the wicket of Griffith, who was on 10 at the time, dropping a return catch which wasn’t a doosie, but was one which you’d expect to be taken at this level.

Storm therefore reached the half-way mark without further loss, at 82-3 – captain Luff doing most of the work with 28 off 49 balls.

The Luff-Griffiths partnership meandered past 50, with Griffiths dropped again by Yvonne Graves off her own bowling on 25. The partnership was finally broken in the 33rd over – Griffiths bowled off her back leg, attempting a Sarah Taylor-esque drive off Kathryn Bryce, for 30.

Dani Gibson’s batting heroics for London Spirit lit up The Hundred, but she had hitherto failed to rediscover that form for Storm since the resumption of regional cricket. She took a bit of time to get going here too, and at one stage was 3 off 11 balls, but she soon began to accelerate, hitting Grace Ballinger for consecutive 4s in the 38th over as Storm finally began to make some hay.

Meanwhile Yvonne Grave’s misfortunes continued – Luff, looking to get to the pitch of the ball to negate the turn, finally missed one on 55, but Abbey Freeborn fumbled the regulation stumping chance.

Gibson, having raced to 29 off 26 balls, was trapped LBW by the returning Kirstie Gordon, who then snagged the big wicket of Sophie Luff for 70 off 11 balls – the skipper chipping to mid on, to leave Storm 181-6 with 7 overs remaining.

Some frantic stroke-play… and even more frantic running between the wickets… from Nat Wraith (13 off 14), Nicole Harvey (19* off 19) and Chloe Skelton (13* off 12, on her professional debut) took Storm well past the psychologically significant 200 mark to finish on 228-7, with Kirstie Gordon the pick of the bowling, continuing to make her case for an England comeback, taking 3-43.

With Lightning needing to score at almost 6 runs an over to get the bonus point win which would make semi-final qualification easier, albeit still a long shot depending on other results, they came out looking to play positively. A little too positively, it turned out, as Sarah Bryce called Beth Harmer for a sharp single, inviting her opening partner to take on the arm of Dani Gibson on the ring – a race which Harmer lost somewhat comprehensively, sending her back to the pavilion for 5.

Sarah Bryce was joined in the middle by sister Kathryn, but she lasted just 8 balls as Lauren Filer got one to swing in sharply, taking the edge and going through to Nat Wraith behind the stumps. Kathryn meanwhile had progressed to 27, but was bowled by Claire Nicholas to leave Lightning reeling at 38-3.

Abby Freeborn and Lucy Higham took the score on to 57 before Freeborn was bowled for 7 in a rush of blood to the head, dancing down the pitch and driving enthusiastically, but right past, a delivery from Nicole Harvey.

With Lightning struggling to get the ball past a tight Storm field, Teresa Graves looked to go aerial instead – hitting the first 6 of the match off Dani Gibson, but then thick-edging the very next ball to give Nat Wraith catching practice behind the stumps.

Lighting actually reached the 25-over mark at 91-5, some 9 runs ahead of where Storm had been at the same stage, but needing to accelerate significantly to win the game, with the bonus point already realistically out of reach.

Lucy Higham showed some stickability, hanging in there for 50 balls, but making just 23 runs – nothing like enough in the context of the match – before being trapped in front trying to reverse-sweep Fi Morris.

Ella Claridge then offered some last-ditch resistance, making 39; but the rest of the tail collapsed around her, with Nat Wraith taking 4 catches as Lightning were bowled out for 166.

OPINION: Where Does Alice Capsey Fit Into An England XI?

Having said that I think Surrey South East Stars allrounder Alice Capsey should be in the England XI, it’s not unreasonable to ask exactly where she fits in.

The case for Capsey is twofold. First that she is the best uncapped player in England. With Emma Lamb now ruled out of that particular race, after making her debut at Chelmsford last week, the only other player you might have an argument about is Eve Jones, who has been in sparkling (sorry!) form over the past couple of years.

I like Jones – she has grafted to adapt to the shorter forms of the game, which didn’t come quite so naturally to her; and given the number of first, second (and even third!) chances given to others over the years, Jones absolutely should have been given a opportunity for England when she was younger.

But what Capsey has over and above anyone else is a second thing: potential. She’s one of England’s best players now, at just-turned-17; so what could she be in a few years? Eve Jones herself is the role model here – if Capsey works as hard in the next few years, as Jones has in the past few, she will absolutely be the best player in the world, and that’s what she should be aiming at.

And that’s why it is so important that she gets into the England XI now. You can learn a lot from having a great coaching team around you, which Capsey has at Stars; but there is still no substitute for playing with and against the best in the world. The Hundred showed Capsey can mix with the Marizanne Kapps and the Heather Knights – she needs to be doing it every day, not waiting until next year’s Hundred to go again.

But how could England slot her into their current XI? Here’s the team I think England should have been sending out against New Zealand.

  1. Tammy Beaumont
  2. Lauren Winfield-Hill (ODI) / Danni Wyatt (T20)
  3. Alice Capsey
  4. Nat Sciver
  5. Heather Knight
  6. Sophia Dunkley
  7. Amy Jones
  8. Sophie Ecclestone
  9. Freya Davies
  10. Kirstie Gordon
  11. Lauren Bell

There are a couple of other radical choices in there, so let’s talk about them too!

I think it is time for Lauren Bell – I’ve been saying since she was 14 that she would play for England one day, but that day has come – she is the genuine “strike” bowler that England need to put a bit of fear into the opposition ranks. She’ll go for a few runs, and probably bowl a couple of wides, but that’s a price worth paying, and she’s a good complement for Freya Davies to open the bowling at the other end.

And… Kirstie Gordon? Didn’t she lose her England contract? Yup – but she’s the best attacking spinner in the domestic game, and the numbers back that up. It is true that England would then have two left-armers, but they’ve also now got two right-arm spin options as well – Heather Knight and… who else… Alice Capsey. With Nat Sciver able to also contribute with the ball, baking up the two front-line seamers, that’s absolutely plenty of bowling, in an XI which bats – really, properly bats – down to Amy Jones at 7.

This is definitely a line-up with the future partly in mind – particularly batting Capsey at 3, where she should be long-term, not down at 6 or 7. But it is also an XI for right now – a batting line-up that can hit bags of runs, and an exciting bowling quartet, with Bell and Gordon attacking from one end, while Ecclestone and Davies strangle them from the other. (Ecclestone could, you feel, definitely do with not having to be both England’s main attacking option and their main defensive one, which is what she is too often being asked to be at the moment.)

I’ve championed players in the past – Alex Hartley, once upon a time; and Lauren Bell for many years – though I think this is the first time I’ve said that Bell should be playing “now”, as opposed to some time in the future. And I wrote a piece a couple of years ago saying England should have picked Eve Jones for the 2019 Ashes Test.

But in all my years of watching and writing about this game, I’ve never felt there was quite so clear-cut a case as the one Capsey makes now for making her debut in England’s XI. Her performances in The Hundred are what everyone is talking about, but the final of the Charlotte Edwards Cup arguably told an even more significant story: coming in and ramping her first ball for 4; smashing Katie Levick – lest we forget, the all-time leading wicket taker in the history of the Women’s County Championship – back over her head for 6; then giving a master-class in game-management to see the Stars home, all the while looking like there was never any doubt whatsoever that she’d do so.

Stars captain Bryony Smith afterwards called her a “superstar”.

I’ve heard a lot of players called that by their captains, and it’s usually just hyperbole.

This time though it’s true, and England need to put a shirt on her now.

NEWS: Charlie Dean Replaces Mady Villiers in England ODI Squad for New Zealand Series

Southern Vipers spinner Charlie Dean is included in England’s ODI squad for the up-coming 5-match series against New Zealand, with Sunrisers’ Mady Villiers making way.

Although Villiers has won 17 T20 caps since her debut in 2019, and is one of the best fielders in the world, England have never clearly defined a role for her with either bat or ball. Mark Robinson, the England coach at the time of her debut, always described her as a batter who could bowl, but England have invariably batted her down the order at 9 or 10, and recently she has rarely bowled more than two overs.

Dean, who was selected for the T20 squad but didn’t make an appearance, is likely to bat in a similar position, but will presumably have a more clearly defined bowling role as an off-spinner who looks to turn the ball.

Also retained from the T20 series is Danni Wyatt, who missed out on selection for the ODIs versus India earlier in the summer, and effectively replaces Fran Wilson in the squad. The expectation however would be that Lauren Winfield-Hill comes back into the starting XI to open the batting with Tammy Beaumont.

Kate Cross also returns to the squad. Having played in most of England’s ODIs over the past couple of years, Cross clearly remains part of England’s Ashes and World Cup plans, and with Anya Shrubsole currently nursing a sprained ankle will likely be fighting a 3-way battle for a spot in the XI with Tash Farrant and Freya Davies.

The series begins on Thursday in Bristol, with matches following in Worcester, Leicester, Derby and Canterbury.

Full Squad

Heather Knight (Western Storm)
Tammy Beaumont (Lightning)
Katherine Brunt (Northern Diamonds)
Kate Cross (Thunder)
Freya Davies (South East Stars)
Charlie Dean (Southern Vipers)
Sophia Dunkley (South East Stars)
Sophie Ecclestone (Thunder)
Tash Farrant (South East Stars)
Sarah Glenn (Central Sparks)
Amy Jones (Central Sparks)
Nat Sciver (Northern Diamonds)
Anya Shrubsole (Western Storm)
Lauren Winfield-Hill (Northern Diamonds)
Danni Wyatt (Southern Vipers)

ENGLAND v NEW ZEALAND: 3rd T20 – Unflappable Dunkley Gets England Over The Line

The depth of England’s batting line-up was the difference between the two sides, as England pulled off a series win from the penultimate ball at Taunton.

New Zealand were heading for a total of around 120 until the final four overs. With the big names – Bates, Devine and Satterthwaite – all back in the dugout, England’s bowlers might have felt like they’d already got the job done; but Maddy Green (16 off 14 balls), Brooke Halliday (25 off 16) and Katey Martin (13 off 6) had other ideas, smashing 50 runs from the last 24 balls, leaving Sophie Ecclestone kicking the ground in frustration as her final over went for 16.

It certainly kept things interesting, especially after Nat Sciver and Danni Wyatt holed-out off consecutive balls in the 7th over. But as Heather Knight, back into the side after two games on the bench with a minor hamstring niggle, just wasn’t going to let that happen. Knight just plays whatever game is in front of her, and she plays it so well. So when Amy Jones was in, hitting at a Strike Rate of 168, Knight held back and played the anchor role, going at around 80. But as Dunkley came to the crease Knight turned on a dime, accelerating to a Strike Rate of 135, looking relaxed and confident.

Ball by ball, she manoeuvred England into a position where they didn’t need a big finish, so that even a wobble right at the end, with the loss of first Knight herself and then Bouchier, didn’t prevent them from closing out the match.

Sophia Dunkley again was crucial to this, in an echo of the way she played in the ODI fixture here against India earlier in the summer. In that match, she’d come to the crease with England 4-down and needing 130, and assuredly guided them home. This wasn’t quite in that league, but especially after Bouchier got out it could all have gone south, with just 5 balls left to make 7 runs. Katherine Brunt had a mow at her first ball and missed it, then ran an almost comically panicked single to get Dunks back on strike. Needing 6 from 3 balls, Dunkley however just did her thing – playing two proper cricket shots to get over the line with a ball to spare.

There is definitely an increasing sense that Dunkley is taking up the baton for England’s future. Her consistency and confidence and sheer unflappability remind me of no one so much as Heather Knight in the period she cemented her role in the team 2013-15.

Knight took over the captaincy shortly after.

As the young folks say… just sayin’!

CE CUP: Bedbrook’s Brand Brings It Home For Stars

The inaugural edition of the Charlotte Edwards Cup ended in a convincing win for South East Stars in the final on Sunday, who chased down their not-insubstantial target of 139 to win with 5 wickets and 2 overs to spare.

The most notable thing about the game was the convincing way in which they went about the chase – Bryony Smith and Aylish Cranstone putting on a 71-run partnership for the first wicket in the opening 8 overs, which set a platform that not even a middle-innings wobble could disrupt.

For Stars, their path to victory in the tournament was built on mammoth scores, three times hitting 160+ batting first at a level where totals of 120 are still the norm: 175 against Lightning, 167 against Vipers and 165 against Sparks.

This is the kind of attacking, confident batting which we have rarely seen before from homegrown players in women’s domestic T20 cricket. Speaking to captain Bryony Smith after Stars’ win in the final group stage match at Edgbaston, she labelled it “a positive brand of cricket”:

“We wanted to bowl first in all of those games but it just shows we’ve got the bowling to defend any score. We want to go out, go from ball 1. I’m trying to lead that myself and to see the young ones come in and play like that – I’m really proud of them.”

It seems apparent that coach Johann Myburgh has given his players license to play without fear, and they have responded to that.

The roots of this culture, though, go back further than the dawn of regional cricket in 2020 – they began in 2017 when Surrey CCC decided to appoint a full-time coach of their women’s team. Now Regional Director of the Stars, Richard Bedbrook has worked with many of these players for years, overseeing their development.

“There’s a bit of benefit when you’ve been around the game for a while, and you’ve been in the women’s cricket space in this region like I have,” Bedbrook admitted, speaking to CRICKETher after the final. “The regional development centre was operating during the KSL days – and now the likes of Emma Jones, Kalea [Moore], Alexa [Stonehouse] – so many of those players are still teenagers, and it’s a nice proud moment to see them graduating from being much younger players into being inspiring young women who are going to push the envelope of where the game is for the next few years.”

How did Bedbrook feel, watching his team playing in that final in the way that lived up so successfully to the Stars “brand” of cricket? “It was really good to watch. When you get to a final, you’re hoping that the players will stay true to what they’ve been working for for so long. When they’ve been playing the way they’ve been playing in the group games, you worry that they might regress or they might play safe, but the performance today is testament to the work that Mybs [Mybergh] has done and Tom [Lister] as well, our senior talent manager.”

“They’ve worked with the batters all winter and put them into a place where they’re like, this is the way we’re going to play, and we’re not going to avoid that. And this season it’s come off more times than it hasn’t! You need the players to commit to it.”

“We are really proud of just how many players have come forward this year and have contributed. It is very much a squad effort. Every one of them has contributed at certain times, and that’s very pleasing.”

Of course the breakthrough star of the season has been Alice Capsey, who shot to fame in The Hundred but has also turned it on in regional cricket exactly when it mattered: she finished as Stars’ top run-scorer with 203 runs, including an unbeaten 40* in the final, averaging 41 at a strike rate of 131.

Stars may therefore have a dilemma on their hands. It was noticeable just how much Southern Vipers missed Charlie Dean and Maia Bouchier in the semi-final on Sunday: creating players who are so successful that they disappear on England duty is certainly a double-edged sword. Bedbrook, though, seems unconcerned.

“There might be a little bit of time for that to happen – that next step into international cricket is a big one,” Bedbrook said. “The role she gets to play might not be the same as the role she’s playing for us and that takes a bit of adjustment as well. We’re just going to keep making sure that we’re supporting her in her ambitions, and clearly that’s to play for England and do what we can to support that.”

It’s a mark of how ambitious Bedbrook is for his players that he is also keen to emphasise that Capsey may be brilliant now – but in a few years time could be the best player in the world, if she keeps working for it. “She’s a big star in the making,” he says. “One thing we’ve got to make sure she continues to realise is that there’s still a long way for her to go, and that’s not necessarily in the structure and the programme of the game and the levels that she’s got in front of her, but actually getting into those levels above her and being better and better and better, and holding onto some key values to help support her there.”

“We’re enjoying this season that she’s having, and we’re proud of the work that she’s put in, because she’s a better player than she was last year, and that’s what we want to keep pushing for – keep improving.”

For Stars, the focus now comes back onto the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, where they are currently ranked fifth, with work to do if they are to come back into contention for the final on 25 September. The CE Cup medals hanging around their necks will do plenty to spur them on.

CE CUP FINALS DAY: 22 (Jenny) Gunn Salute

At the start of the 2020 season, Jenny Gunn picked up the phone for what she thought would be nothing more than a friendly chat with her old friend and ex-England teammate Dani Hazell. Gunn was looking forward to experiencing cricket from the sidelines, having announced her retirement from internationals in October 2019. And yet when Hazell asked if she would consider playing for the new regional side for which she was head coach, Gunn found the offer irresistible.

An inconsequential chitchat suddenly turned into a conversation with the biggest of consequences. Gunn was drafted into the Northern Diamonds side, and finished as their third highest run-scorer, with 149 runs including a half-century against Lightning, digging Diamonds out of a substantial hole to lead them to a 2-wicket win. She also picked up 8 wickets.

Gunn’s un-retirement was meant to last just one season, but after proving so instrumental in Diamond’s progress to the final of the inaugural Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy in September 2020, Hazell had yet another ace up her sleeve: the offer of a regional contract with the Diamonds. It proved enough to lure Gunn into another year playing for them.

Ironically, Gunn was initially intending to come out of retirement for one competition only: The Hundred. As it was, with Covid intervening to push back the tournament by a year, she did not even make it into the Northern Superchargers’ final squad. Instead, she has been able to focus her efforts purely on the regional competitions.

And those efforts have not gone to waste. In the 50-over Heyhoe Flint Trophy she has already hit a half-century, helping Diamonds overhaul Stars’ total of 250 at Leeds back in June. In the Charlotte Edwards Cup she was the key to Diamonds pulling off the squeakiest of narrow squeak wins against Western Storm, hitting a boundary off the final ball to see them home by 1 wicket.

On Sunday at the Ageas Bowl, she propelled Northern Diamonds through to the final of the Charlotte Edwards Cup, hitting 22* from 14 balls against Southern Vipers at the back-end of the innings, after they had been in some strife at 82 for 4 in the 15th over. Gunn wasn’t known for her big-hitting when she wore an England shirt, but no one would have known that watching her thump two sixes off Tara Norris in the final over, over long-on and deep midwicket.

With the ball she then took the key wicket of Georgia Adams, who pulled to short midwicket in the sixth over after looking in good touch for most of the powerplay, and she then returned to bowl two overs at the death and wrap up the Vipers tail. Her action is still distinctive as ever; it has served her well over the years, so why change it?

Adams spoke warmly of her nemesis in the post-match: “It’s brilliant. That’s the other bonus of the regional system…if you want a longer career, it’s there for you if you want it. Hopefully I’ll churn out a few runs when I’m as old as Jenny!”

In the final itself, Gunn followed up with an identical score: 22 not out, this time coming from 16 balls. Her fifty partnership with Diamonds captain Holly Armitage came in 38 balls, in the final 20 minutes of the innings, consisting largely of sprinted singles.

Of course, in the end it wasn’t enough: South East Stars won with a hop, skip and a jump, and nobody – not even Gunn – could stand in the way.

But I decided to write about Jenny Gunn anyway.

Why? Well, you could make a good argument that without Gunn’s contribution Diamonds wouldn’t have been in the final at all. Their eventual margin of victory in the semi was 18 runs: without Gunn’s 22*, Vipers would have progressed at their expense.

But the second and most important reason is that somewhere at home I have a signed Jenny Gunn England Test shirt and it will always be one of my most prized possessions; I still go in to bat for her on Twitter; and I still love watching her bowl. 

It remains to be seen what Jenny Gunn’s future looks like, beyond the summer of 2021. In some ways it was surprising that she took up the offer of a regional contract at all, given her protestations that she did not intend to stay playing cricket very long. I don’t know how many more times I’ll get to write a piece about Jenny Gunn, so what the heck, here I am.

What I will say is this: If I was Dani Hazell, whatever Gunn might or might not have said at the start of this season, I’d be making sure I picked up the phone sooner rather than later and, by hook or by crook, ensuring that she was signed on the dotted line for next year.

On the evidence of Finals Day in the inaugural Charlotte Edwards Cup, Jenny Gunn is simply too good to lose.

ENGLAND v NEW ZEALAND: 2nd T20 – Devine, Women & Song

They’ll be singing on the streets of Wellington tonight… or today… or tomorrow… or whatever time it is in New Zealand… after Sophie Devine led New Zealand to victory in Hove, with an innings of 50 off 41 balls, with all-but half of those runs coming in just 4 shots for six.

The biggest of those sixes – onto the rooves of the hospitality boxes over deep midwicket – were vintage Devine – an effortless whip of the wrists sending the ball sailing through the starless black skies over the county ground at Hove.

Nonetheless, New Zealand almost blew it, partly thanks to some magic fielding from Mady Villiers, who brilliantly threw down the stumps to send Suzie Bates back to the pavilion for 8, and then produced a stunning running dive to catch Devine. There was also a smart Caught & Bowled to get rid of Maddy Green.

There remain doubts about exactly what Villiers’ role in this team is – she is batting below Sophie Ecclestone and Sarah Glenn, neither of whom are genuine allrounders – so she is batting in a bowling position, but she only bowled one over. That over did produce a wicket, but what England really needed at that stage in the game, with 23 required from 5 overs, was for an over not to go for 8 runs… which is what it went for. Nonetheless, there is little doubt that Villiers is among the best fielders in the world… if not the best – and that’s pretty handy to have on-board.

Devine’s heroics overshadowed what was a strong debut for Maia Bouchier – her 25 off 24 balls was the highest score by an England player on T20 debut since the very first T20, played at this same ground in 2004. I wrote during The Hundred about how Bouchier seemed to have a new sense that she truly belongs at the highest levels of the game, and she showed that again today. One shot in particular – a cut through point off Amy Satterthwaite – was a stroke out of the very top draw.

Less than a year ago, Bouchier was heartbroken to be banned from bowling by the ECB for an illegal action; but she vowed to go away over the winter and rectify the issue with her action, which she did to the satisfaction of the board, who cleared her to bowl again earlier in the summer. It took real character to do that, not to mention hard work, and that was rewarded with an England cap tonight, and the chance to do what Emma Lamb didn’t have the chance to do on her debut last week: to actually make an impact on the game.

Coming in at 4-down with 10 overs to go though is a mixed blessing – you have time, but it is all on you! It was a real pressure situation for Bouchier, and some slightly crazy running between the wickets suggested she was feeling that pressure. But with luck and pluck she came through it, and it seems safe to say that although she is unlikely to play in the 3rd T20, assuming Heather Knight returns to the XI, we will see her in an England shirt many more times in years to come.