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 ARE A TAIL!
THEY SHOULDN’T BE HAVING TO DO THIS!
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.