#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.

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* 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.

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

  1. Probably the latter… as I think we might discover all over again when Australia do the same to England in the final as they did to the Windies in the semi.

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    • Tend to agree. AUS probably about 80% likely to win. ENG were the team to get closest to beating them in the RR stage – a chink of hope. 80%/20% usually means the 80% team have to drop a few clangers whilst the 20% team can’t afford one mistake.

      There is also the rather stark fact that even if ENG did win they would have won only 1 in 5 ODI matches against AUS in the last 3 months ………………… which still leaves Australia as the best ODI team in the world.

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  2. Simple equation!
    Bat sensibly (hope at least a couple come off). +
    wily seasoned bowlers bowl properly +
    the young twin spinners apply their trade +
    a bit of luck =
    You win games!

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  3. Well done England. That was class. I hope they haven’t just played their final as it would be good to see Australia under pressure.

    I *believe* I have posted this here before, but this isn’t that big a surprise as Sth Africa are light on batting, and that tends to matter more than bowling in World Cups. “Hitting against the Spin” covered this as a key along with a winning record and experience (total caps).

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  4. This was a brilliant performance by England, there’s no denying it! That’s now 5 matches in a row taking all 10 wickets, a wonderful stat. England have probably been the overall most impressive bowling side in the comp, not just against the lower ranked teams but also having skittled India and SA – 2 good batting sides.

    England’s resurgence in the comp has been something to behold though – and they were at their very best in this SF, with Wyatt and Ecclestone in indomitable form. That’s a great achievement and something they can take away from this, whatever happens tonight. The Ashes performances still need a inquest, and the improvements other teams in this comp have showed really hammers home the fact that England can afford no complacency going forward, but after this they can have a much deserved rest with heads held high.

    Given their masterful batting though Australia have been the best overall team, and especially given their faultless recent ODI record, they deserve to win the thing. Probably more than they deserved to win the T20 world cups tbh. But things sometimes don’t work out how they should, and Australia will need to play well. England have done the one thing that their fans dread though – given us a bit of hope… it’s a dangerous thing to have!

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