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.
|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|
Thanks for this. England’s spin twins have been brilliant and the pace attack is improving recently. As an England fan I’m pretty worried about how good SA’a pace attack is though. Klaas is not even in the list but is usually very effective and economical too. Kapp has actually had a couple of worse games with the ball recently but that just probably means she’s due another another good one. England might take hope from the way India smacked SA around early in their last game, but then India have been doing that a lot then failing to post a total which matched that early ambition – plus England’s opening partnerships have been less than impressive.
England will just have to hope that they rule the spin battle, keep wickets in hand, and their seamers come to the party. Removing Lee and Wolvaardt without too much damage is also key to the game. I don’t hold out a great deal of hope though. Playing on the Wellington pitch may have been more helpful to us – at Christchurch I can just see SA scoring too many.
For Australia, their reluctance to use Wellington has been puzzling, I rate her higher than Gardner and King tbh. Useful batter too. Her inclusion and that of Darcie Brown will be vital to ensure Australia’s struggles to get wickets at times, will be eased in their final matches. Basically – play Wellington at Wellington! It makes total sense.
“they are now officially a “Big Team”, qualifying for the World Cup semi-finals ahead of the likes of India and England” – I take it that “England” is a sort of interesting way to spell to “New Zealand”.
I meant “ahead in the table” but you are right – it doesn’t read right – I’ll change it.
Ah, I now understand what the original paragraph was trying to say. Strictly speaking it was accurate – I erroneously took “ahead of” to mean “instead of” (because “ahead of” often means this but doesn’t have to). English language ambiguity – Ronnie Barker made a career out of it.