#CWC22 SEMI-FINAL: England v South Africa – Wyatt Sets ‘Em Up, Ecclestone Knocks ‘Em Down

“Keep calm and carry on” I wrote after England’s tournament-opening loss to Australia, arguing that England were still “the best team in the world that aren’t called ‘Australia'”.

South Africa’s results in this World Cup, on the way to a second-placed finish in the group stages, might have made us doubt that, not least their Kapp-inspired win over England; but cometh the crunch, cometh the England juggernaut, and South Africa were the roadkill.

Remarkably, we are reliably informed by Hypocaust that only 4 centuries have ever been scored in the knockout stages of a Women’s World Cup* and half of them have been scored in the last two days. Yesterday it was Alyssa Healy; today it was Danni Wyatt’s turn to bask in the late-summer New Zealand sun.

Wyatt started watchfully in the first 5 overs, during which time she was joined by Heather Knight, playing her now customary role as “de facto opener” after Tammy Beaumont was dismissed early; but she picked up the pace to a run-a-ball at the back-end of the powerplay, and never looked back. Though Knight, Sciver and Jones came and went, she maintained her Strike Rate throughout her innings, powering through the “Nervous Nineties” with three 4s, and going on to make 129 off 125 balls. It wasn’t a flawless innings – she was dropped 5 times – but it did the business for England.

It wouldn’t have happened though without the support of Sophia Dunkley, who made a second consecutive under-pressure half-century. England were 126-4 when Dunkley came in, with 25 overs left to bat, and only the tail behind her. In a World Cup semi-final. Many have cracked under that kind of pressure; but Dunkley again defied her “Resting ‘Rabbit In The Headlights’ Expression” to calmly play the perfect supporting role, turning over the strike to Wyatt and hitting just 3 boundaries in a 116-run partnership.

It left England in a position where they could pursue the “Big Finish”, with Sophie Ecclestone popping the cherries on top with 3 consecutive 4s off Ismail in the final over.

If it wasn’t already won at that point (and history says that it was – no one has ever successfully chased 293 in a Women’s ODI) then it was within 5 overs, as Anya Shrubsole rolled back the years to take the early wickets of Wolvaardt and Lee – the number 1 ranked batter at this World Cup, and the leading ODI run-scorer in 2021. South Africa quickly started to fall behind the run-rate, which had climbed to well over 7 by the end of the 20th over.

With South Africa desperately chasing the game, Sophie Ecclestone came into the attack and began to hunt them down one by one: de Preez, bowled Ecclestone; Kapp, bowled Ecclestone; Tryon, caught Sciver bowled Ecclestone… and so it went on, until it felt like the entire scorecard could just be replaced with: South Africa, bowled Ecclestone.

Ecclestone looked jaded at the tail-end of the English summer last year. Whether she was injured or just tired, we won’t ever know… at least not until her autobiography comes out in 15 years time… but she had a poor Hundred and against New Zealand there was just a hint that she might be slipping from the pedestal. But in probably the biggest game of her career (at least until the one on Saturday) she brought home the best figures of her career, and you can’t ask any more than that.

Wyatt set ’em up, Ecclestone knocked ’em down… and now England are in the final.


* Enid Bakewell scored one in the final game of the 1973 tournament but that wasn’t technically a knockout match – there was no “final” in the initial tournaments.

#CWC22 Batting Rankings – Hungry Like The Wolv

Laura Wolvaardt wouldn’t be a professional cricketer if she was English. Instead, she’d be in her final year at medical school, having been told aged 18 that talk of playing for England was premature, and she needed to graft away in domestic cricket for a few years first – the same things people are currently saying about Alice Capsey.

But she isn’t English, and aged 22 – a year younger than Sophia Dunkley – with over 100 caps on her head, she’s topping the batting rankings at a World Cup for South Africa.

Wolvaardt is not one of the 9 batters to have made a century in New Zealand this month, but she has been remarkably consistent, with 5 half-centuries in 7 matches at an average of 62. (The only player with a better average is Beth Mooney, who has been not out 5 times for an average of 113.)

Meg Lanning at number 2 has been less consistent, with 3 big scores, including a tournament-best 135* against South Africa, but 3 single-figure scores, including two ducks; proving that you get Meg Lanning early… or you don’t get her at all!

England’s highest-ranked batter is Nat Sciver, who has had a slightly odd few months. She’s making runs by the hatful, but she’s not converting those runs into wins for England. If you want to rule the world as a middle-order batter, you need to be there at the end – hence all those Not Outs by Beth Mooney’s name – but Sciver’s one Not Out score at this World Cup came when she wasn’t able to quite drag England over the line in the game against Australia; and otherwise she’s been dismissed with the job half done a little too often for a player of her class. (To be fair… effectively batting at “3” so much recently, due to the repeated failures of first Winfield-Hill and then Wyatt when opening, probably hasn’t helped.)

As alluded to earlier, Sophia Dunkley – who falls just outside the top 10 – is “what might have been” vis-Γ -vis the way South Africa handled Wolvaardt. She was given a brief chance in the T20 format aged 20, but quickly discarded when she didn’t instantly turn into the next Meg Lanning, and then didn’t make her ODI debut until she was older than Wolvaardt is today. It’s only now that she’s really starting to find her feet, aged 23, with her 67 against Pakistan being perhaps the first time she has looked like she genuinely believes she belongs at this level.

One interesting more general phenomena is that Strike Rates are slightly down on 2017. The top 20 leading run-scorers in 2017 averaged a Strike Rate of 83; but in 2022 that’s down to 80 – lower than it was in 2013, when it averaged 81. It’s a bit marginal to suggest there’s a trend down here, but what’s striking (or… not striking!!) is that there isn’t a trend up either, despite this being the most professional tournament yet.

Player Played Runs Strike Rate
1. Laura Wolvaardt 7 433 78
2. Meg Lanning 7 358 87
3. Harmanpreet Kaur 7 318 92
4. Rachael Haynes 7 344 84
5. Sophie Devine 7 309 91
6. Smriti Mandhana 7 327 78
7. Nat Sciver 7 273 83
8. Suzie Bates 7 255 88
9. Beth Mooney 7 225 90
10. Hayley Matthews 7 226 82
11. Sophia Dunkley 7 209 87
12. Alyssa Healy 7 210 85
13. Sune Luus 7 249 71
14. Marizanne Kapp 7 182 95
15. Amelia Kerr 7 201 80
16. Tammy Beaumont 7 243 64
17. Pooja Vastrakar 7 156 99
18. Chloe Tryon 7 133 106
19. Danni Wyatt 7 138 99
20. Deandra Dottin 7 165 79

#CWC22 Bowling Rankings – England’s Spinners Are Winners

England’s odds-defying recovery at the World Cup, from the cusp of elimination to the semi-finals, was driven by their new spin-twins: Sophie Ecclestone and Charlie Dean; with England’s four seamers notably absent from this “Top 20” (and all bar one from the Top 30).

Ecclestone we know all about by now – she’s the world number one for a reason! But Dean’s rise has been absolutely meteoric, and her 4th placed ranking here is all the more remarkable given that she played just 4 of England’s 7 games.

There’s been a lot of talk about how Dean was picked for England at the tail-end of last summer off her “form” in The Hundred, but in fact that’s not really true – if you were picking on form, you’d have picked Kirstie Gordon or Alice Capsey, both of whom ranked much higher than Dean. Dean is actually much better seen as an example of an old favourite we don’t see too often in cricket any more, in the days of spreadsheets and analysts: “The Hunch”. Heather Knight – Dean’s captain at London Spirit – had a feeling that she saw something in Charlie Dean beyond her numbers, and she was selected off the back of it – that’s “The Hunch”… and it was a good one!

Another name you probably wouldn’t have expected to see here if we’d been having this conversation a couple of years ago is that of Frankie Mackay. Having made her debut in 2011, the now-31-year-old appeared to have won her final cap in 2014. There was a one-off appearance in 2019, but Mackay was already making quite an effective slide into a post-playing career in commentary when she was recalled properly in 2021. Mackay ended up essentially taking Leigh Kasperek’s place in the World Cup squad, to no little controversy among fans, but it proved to be a good call, with Mackay returning 10 wickets at 4.02 in 6 games.

The Indian names on this list are also not the ones we might have expected: no Jhulan, no Deepti, no Poonam Yadav, the #2 ranked bowler at the last T20 World Cup – instead, it’s Pooja Vastrakar (who has also been handy with the bat), Sneh Rana, and in particular number two ranked Rajeshwari Gayakwad with 11 wickets at 3.88, who have stepped up for India, perhaps attesting that there is more depth than we sometimes think in Indian domestic cricket.

And finally, a very honourable mention for our 9th-ranked bowler. Ayabonga Khaka has played her entire 10 year career largely as a support act to two all-time greats – Shabnim Ismail and Marizanne Kapp – but what a support act she has been, with over 100 caps and more than 130 international wickets – a vital cog inside the machine that has seen South Africa progress to the point where they are now officially a “Big Team”, qualifying for the World Cup semi-finals ahead of the likes of India and New Zealand.

Player Played Wickets Economy
1. Sophie Ecclestone 7 14 3.27
2. Rajeshwari Gayakwad 7 11 3.88
3. Shabnim Ismail 7 11 3.91
4. Charlie Dean 4 10 3.69
5. Salma Khatun 7 10 3.79
6. Frankie Mackay 6 10 4.02
7. Hayley Matthews 7 10 4.22
8. Sneh Rana 7 10 4.24
9. Ayabonga Khaka 7 11 4.74
10. Nashra Sandhu 7 9 4.14
11. Jess Jonassen 6 8 3.71
12. Marizanne Kapp 7 10 4.65
13. Nida Dar 7 10 4.68
14. Pooja Vastrakar 7 10 4.69
15. Lea Tahuhu 6 10 4.76
16. Amelia Kerr 7 9 4.46
17. Ashleigh Gardner 5 8 3.99
18. Alana King 7 8 4.30
19. Hannah Rowe 7 9 4.98
20. Ritu Moni 7 7 4.14

#CWC22: England v Bangladesh – Sophia Dunkley Comes Out Of The Box

Sophia Dunkley produced the most significant performance of her England career, soaking up the pressure after coming in at 96-4 to deliver 67 critical runs and put the match well beyond Bangladesh’s limited batting.

England then bowled Bangladesh out for 134 to win by exactly 100 runs, bumping their Net Run Rate up sufficiently to ensure that whatever happened in the other match between South Africa and India, England finished the group stages in 3rd place, avoiding Australia and setting up a repeat of their 2017 semi-final against South Africa.

Batting at the bottom of the middle-order is so often the hardest gig in the game. If you come in at all, it is either with only a few overs left with no chance to “build” an innings, or with your team in horrendous trouble, knowing you have to guard your wicket all the more carefully as you try to shepherd the tail.

Put like that, it is actually quite odd that it’s a job England seem to invariably give to their most junior batter, but it is what they seem to do. (And no doubt will do to Alice Capsey if she comes into the T20 team next summer… though they shouldn’t!)

“Junior” is relative of course – Dunkley has over 40 caps now, across all 3 formats, so she’s no newbie, and she’s been consistent in this World Cup – she’s got starts every time she’s come to the crease, but hasn’t been able to convert that into a bigger score until today.

The impression I have is that, for whatever reasons, Dunkley has been limiting her game when pulling on an England shirt in this format. It is really interesting that the commentators working on this World Cup have never seen Dunkley play domestic 50-over cricket, so they see her primarily as a paddle-sweeper.

But when we looked back at Raf’s notes from one of her big innings for Stars a couple of years ago (her 90-odd at Beckenham v Sunrisers), it was full of cuts and pulls and drives; and though she started sweeping here, as she grew in confidence the drives started to come out of the box, and they were coming out of the middle of the bat too.

That’s the Sophia Dunkley England need going forwards; and it was the reason England were in a position to finish strongly today.

If they were realistic, Bangladesh’s aim at this World Cup would have been to win a game and hopefully not finish last. They’ve done that, and they should be proud of what they’ve achieved. They are a good bowling side, but their batting is still stuck in the amateur era and it was quickly apparent that they weren’t going to chase 234 – England had the game won at the break, and it was just a question of whether England could take the wickets quickly enough to get the Net Run Rate advantage they’d need to avoid Australia if India beat South Africa.

England’s pace attack has been blunted this World Cup and they’ve struggled to take wickets, while continuing to believe they’ve got the selections right. Freya Davies came in today, but it was made clear that Anya Shrubsole was only being rested, and Davies’ place in the pecking order was established as Nat Sciver opened with Katherine Brunt.

But neither Brunt not Sciver could make the breakthrough, and nor could Kate Cross, with Davies finally being thrown the ball in the 24th over. Davies ended up bowling 10 overs after Brunt went off with a “tight back”, and taking 2-36 – a tidy performance in a spinner’s game (Ecclestone, Dean and Knight taking 7 of the 9 wickets to fall to bowlers), but probably not one that is going to stop Shrubsole coming back for the semi-final.

Because a semi-final is where England are now headed, to play South Africa who handed them one of the 3 losses they started off this tournament with. Do they deserve to be in the semis? The way things have turned out (at time of writing this sentence, South Africa have literally just hit the winning run off the last ball against India) is tough on India; but frankly it is West Indies who have lucked out with that crucial point from a washed-out match they would probably have lost against South Africa. England put themselves in a position where they effectively faced down 4 quarter-finals in a row, and they fought through them tooth-and-nail and came out the other side. It wasn’t pretty, but ultimately it was pretty effective. The table doesn’t lie – they pulled it off, and they deserve it.

#CWC22: England v Pakistan – ‘Scuse Me While I Diss The Sky

“Full Coverage” it said, in large friendly letters, when I logged on to Sky’s YouTube channel at 1am this morning UK time. Although Sky have exclusive rights to this World Cup, the pay TV behemoth had promised that all England’s matches would be streamed free on via YouTube. What nice chaps! And so positive about women’s sport!

Except… someone, somewhere presumably forgot to push the button and fans were left “Waiting for Sky Sports Cricket” until the cows came home, 4Β½ hours later*.

Sky are a business, and I’d totally understand if they’d decided to keep the whole tournament behind a paywall; but to say you’ll show it free… and lap up the kudos for being oh-so supportive of women’s sport… and then not show it, is really poor form. The ICC should take these things into account when awarding the contracts next time. But they won’t. Because… money!


While I was watching a blank screen on YouTube, England were having fun down-under in New Zealand, winning by enough to take them into 4th place on Net Run Rate. If they can avoid defeat to Bangladesh in their final match, they will qualify for the semi-finals. Not only that, but their NRR gain today could help them avoid a semi-final with Australia, with the exact-same semi-finals as last time (England v South Africa & Australia v India) potentially on the cards.

Katherine Brunt and Danni Wyatt chose today to find the form that has been eluding them since their arrival in Aotearoa, Brunt taking 3-17 and Wyatt smacking 76 off 68 balls; and England won a game easily for the first time at this tournament, which wasn’t a given, having nearly stuffed-up an equally straightforward chase against India.

It feels like England’s management have gone all-in on Brunt this tournament, selecting her today despite her having taken just 1 wicket in 5 games, while dropping Charlie Dean (7 wickets) to bring in an extra batter. It’s hard to tell from the social media clips that are all I’ve seen, but the consensus seems to be that she was much improved today – more disciplined and less banging it in short like it’s still the glory days of 2005. There are ways to play this game into your late 30s, but trying to pretend you are still 20 ain’t one of them! Was this the day Katherine Brunt finally realised that?

Will England make any changes now for the final match v Bangladesh at the weekend? The logic of playing Lamb today was that England wanted to win quickly, and they’ll want to do the same again, to put some clear blue water between themselves and India in terms of Net Run Rate, and hopefully avoid Australia in the semis, so you can see them going with an unchanged batting line-up. As for the bowling, the temptation to rest people (Brunt in particular) will have to be weighed against the importance continuing the momentum they’ve built up here (again… Brunt in particular). My guess is that “England unchanged” will be the words we’ll be reading when we see the team on Saturday. And hopefully for England, the result will be unchanged too.


* We had actually paid for Now TV, but various commitments meant we were in different cities for the night, and Raf had bagsies on the sub, because she was doing the Guardian. And yes – I could have paid for a last-minute upgrade to “multi-screen” but I felt like I was being bait-and-switched at that point, so… no!

#CWC22: England v New Zealand – Lucky, Lucky England

One of the England players has found a 4-leaf clover – it’s the only explanation for where we are now. Because despite losing their first 3 games, and batting like a total sheep-show today, England now look a pretty good bet to make the semi-finals of the World Cup.

Providing England beat Pakistan and Bangladesh, there are 2187 ways the cards could fall in terms of other results. England qualify absolutely (without Net Run Rate) in 93% of those scenarios, and could qualify on NRR in all of the remaining 7%. If they end up needing NRR, it will be a bun-fight on 8 points with India and possibly also South Africa or West Indies.

But it gets even better for England.

(Here comes the Net Run Rate deets – you can skip the next paragraph if you want – there’s a “TLDR” after!)

South Africa currently have a lower NRR than England, and they have already got 8 points – so the only way the finish on 8 points is by losing all of their remaining three matches, which means that their NRR then would likely be even lower than it is now. And although West Indies (currently on 6 points, with 2 to play) could end up with 8 points and a NRR higher than England, their NRR is currently so bad that it would take an absolutely impossible victory in the match they won to overhaul England. (Even if they lost their losing game by 1 run and 1 ball (so basically no hit to NRR) if they scored 300, and then bowled their opposition out for 1 (yes – 1!) it still wouldn’t be enough to match England’s current NRR.)

TLDR: If it comes down to NRR, it all comes down to India as far as England are concerned – in practice, South Africa and West Indies don’t matter.

India currently have a slightly higher NRR than England, and would improve it a bit if they won both their remaining games (Bangladesh and South Africa) by 20/30 runs, so England need to win their matches (Bangladesh and Pakistan) by more than India do, plus around-about 40/50 runs extra. It’s feels pretty doable… and remember, that’s only in the 7% of chances where it comes down to NRR.

[Update: the previous paragraph originally said that India’s NRR would definitely improve if they won both their games, but (especially at the back-end of a tournament where you’ve had a couple of huge wins, as India have) that’s not true – thanks to The Clanger, in ‘Have Your Say’ below for pointing this out. I’ve now run the numbers, and they need to win both games by something of the order of 20/30 runs to maintain their NRR.]

We are here, of course, largely at the expense of New Zealand, who had a day as unlucky as England’s was lucky, losing both Sophie Devine and Lea Tahuhu to injuries that meant neither could bowl after Tahuhu limped off in the 17th over. England got to face the very occasional “off spin with a leg spin action” bowling of Brooke Halliday instead, and limped over the line with 1 wicket remaining. New Zealand can theoretically still qualify mathematically on NRR, but their chances are slimmer than a 60s supermodel – they are all-but out.

In the circumstances, I think we can say that this was England’s worst performance of the tournament – despite bowling New Zealand out for 203, and then the injuries, they almost ****** it up AGAIN having been 98-2 at one stage and cruising. Nat Sciver making runs, but not closing the deal is starting to become a rather worrying pattern – she left the tail still needing 17, and it very nearly proved beyond them, because… at the risk of stating the obvious here… in large, friendly letters:



They did it though, and somehow England march on in this tournament. Despite having an opening “strike” bowler (Katherine Brunt) who has taken 1 wicket in the entire tournament; a walking wicket at the top of the batting order (played variously by Danni Wyatt and Lauren Winfield-Hill) meaning Heather Knight is effectively opening; and a middle-order that look like they couldn’t close a self-sealing envelope, they are now odds on to make the semis.

And you thought the Irish were lucky.

#CWC22: England v India – All You Need Is Positivity… And Three Magic Moments

The positive way of looking at England’s World Cup is that they’ve suffered one real “defeat”, to the West Indies, and two losses to once-in-a-lifetime performances – Rachael Haynes 130, the highest score in her long career; and Marizanne Kapp’s 5-45, the best figures in her even longer career. They came into this tournament as the second-best side in the world, and one bad result wasn’t going to change that.

Nonetheless, they came into this match with their lives on the line, needing a win to stay realistically in the hunt for a semi-final spot. There was still a mathematical opportunity for them to qualify with just 3 wins, but the stars would have had to align perfectly in terms of other results going their way for them to do so. To put some numbers on it, if they’d lost they would have qualified in just 2% of the possible remaining scenarios where they won their remaining games; but having won, they now make the semi-finals in 83% of possible outcomes where they win their last 3 matches, though some of these are quite implausible (e.g. every other game being rained off).

All it took was three moments of magic in the first 10 overs to put them in a position to win this game.

MAGIC MOMENT 1: Anya Shrubsole has lost none of her ability to swing the ball over the years, but it was all becoming a bit samey. Opposing sides have much more access to analytics than they had even 5 years ago, and so batters have known exactly what to expect from her – the fast ball that swings in sharply, or the slower one… that swings in sharply. But to the left-handed Yastika Bhatia today, she got one to shape away and then come back in just enough to slip through Yastika’s defences and take out middle stump.

MAGIC MOMENT 2: Last summer in the RHF Trophy we watched Sophia Dunkley drop two sitters in two balls on the boundary at Beckenham against Vipers. And we just shrugged: that’s our Dunks! So when she appealed for a spectacular catch diving forwards at cover to dismiss Mithali Raj, the on-field officials were probably right to just double-check with the third umpire. But the TV replay showed no doubt – she’d grasped the opportunity literally with both hands.

MAGIC MOMENT 3: After losing two early wickets, the last thing India needed was someone trying to run a suicidal single; but that’s exactly what Deepti did, presumably thinking that she was safe going to Kate Cross’s weaker hand, to her left at mid off. But Cross angled her run perfectly to intersect with the ball on her right hand and hurl it in for a direct hit.

At 28-3 it was always going to be uphill for India from there, and they limped to 134 all out, giving England a fantastic opportunity to not only win the game but also massively boost their Net Run Rate.

And somehow they still nearly stuffed it up!

The loss of two early wickets wasn’t great, but… it happens. Nat Sciver and Heather Knight rebuilt and looked to be cruising, until Sciver lost her concentration for a moment, getting a top-edge off Vastrakar which ballooned up for Jhulan Goswami to take the catch. Amy Jones then came in, and immediately went into her shell – she was on 4 off 26 balls – a Strike Rate of 15 – when she finally decided to hit one, and for a moment the Amy Jones of domestic cricket was unleashed as she smashed Gayakwad back over her head for a huge maximum. But the Amy Jones of more recent international cricket returned two balls later, trying to play the same shot again, but barely clearing the circle to be well taken by Harmanpreet.

Enter Sophia Dunkley, looking sharp at the crease, but she couldn’t see it through either… and nor could Katherine Brunt, who lasted just 2 balls. It was left to Sophie Ecclestone to bring it home and hit the winning boundary in the 32nd over.

Nonetheless, a win is a win. Net Run Rate doesn’t care about wickets, luckily enough, and England’s NRR is remarkably now better than South Africa’s, even though South Africa have won 3 games and England lost 3.

So England are back in with a shout – they still need things to fall their way, but their chances are much better than they were 24 hours ago. As ex Head Coach Mark Robinson pointed out on the radio yesterday, if the results fall the way England hope, they can make the semis, and then we know they can win a one-off game against anyone, even Australia. It could still happen!

#CWC22: England v South Africa – Kappital Punishment

Capital punishment was abolished in New Zealand in 1989* but sadly for England’s cricketers, Kappital punishment continues to be very much legal… as Heather Knight and co. discovered to their cost last night.

Remarkably for someone who is arguably the finest bowler of her generation, Marizanne Kapp has never taken an international 5fer before, though she has taken 4 wickets 5 times – 4 times in ODIs, plus once in T20s. Her 5-45 at Mount Maunganui dismantled England, putting the defending champions in very real danger of not qualifying for the knockout stages, and leaving South Africa with a very strong chance of making the semis for the first time since… last time!

Although the vast majority of games in this tournament have been won by the side batting first – the only two that weren’t, prior to today, were against the “minnows”, Pakistan and Bangladesh – South Africa won the toss and opted to send England in, and it paid off quickly with the early wickets of Wyatt and Knight. Both were sucker-punched by Kapp: Wyatt chasing a wide delivery she should have left well alone, and Knight playing on attempting the withdrawal method… something that any British leader can tell you isn’t always entirely reliable… (eh Boris?)

Nat Sciver followed shortly after, playing do-si-do with a delivery from Masabata Klaas, who was obviously somewhat overshadowed by Kapp, but also returned some excellent figures, finishing with 2 for just 23 off 8 overs.

Amy Jones and Tammy Beaumont both had “ok” days, putting on 100 together and both grabbing 50s – Jones bringing to an end a run of indifferent scores over the winter. But one or the other really should have pushed on and turned 50 into 100. I know the commentators on TV are paid to cheerlead to a certain extent, but describing their performances as “absolutely magnificent” isn’t over-egging the pudding so much as making it entirely out of egg. Ash Gardner yesterday was absolutely magnificent. Or Harmanpreet versus the West Indies. Jones and Beaumont turned in a day at the office.

Nonetheless, 235 wasn’t a terrible score – it was, after all, nearly enough. If England’s ambitions are to mix it up with the likes of South Africa and India, it’s the kind of score that will win some and lose some. But if they want to be challenging Australia, they need to be doing Australia-like things, like scoring 100 off the last 10 overs. England today scored 3 boundaries in the final 15 overs – the same number Ash Gardner struck in the final over versus New Zealand. (On a different pitch, of course, but with the same bat and ball!)

As for South Africa, they didn’t exactly “ease” past Bangladesh, and they almost lost to Pakistan. I’m not convinced they are actually a better side than they were in 2017 – their top order is good… if by “top order” you mean Lee and Wolvaardt; but their tail arguably begins at 3. With Mignon du Preez in a terrible rut, with a string of sub-20 scores this year, Kapp has to rescue them far more often than I think they’d like to admit; but she keeps doing it, and she did it again today, sealing the Player of the Match gong with 32 off 42, and chivvying her side into a position where all they needed was one good over, which Katherine Brunt sent them wrapped up in a bow, conceding 10 runs when England really needed to keep it tight. That over got the required rate under 6, and South Africa realised that all they needed to do then was not lose their heads; while England looked like they knew they were about to be beaten by the better side on the day.

All isn’t entirely lost for England – if they win their final 4 games, and other results go their way, they can still make the semis. But the looks on their faces after the game reminded me of those on the faces of the West Indians after they got hammered by South Africa in 2017. It took the Windies 4 years to recover from that traumatic day in Leicester. Let’s hope it doesn’t take England until 2026 to do the same.


* Capital punishment for murder was abolished in 1961, but it remained technically applicable for treason until 1989.