“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, 4½ 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!