Until tonight, Emma Lamb hadn’t scored a single run in international white ball cricket – three caps; two balls faced; no runs – though she had, of course, made a solid 38 off 69 balls in the Test at the end of last month.
But given how consistently she has made runs in domestic cricket over the past few years, it felt like it was only a matter of time before she made a proper score for England, and tonight was the night.
I didn’t dare to jinx it by tweeting it in public, but at 6:29pm this evening I texted a friend, saying: “If Lamb plays 100 games she will never have a better chance to score a 100 for England.”
Lamb set off as she meant to go on – at the 5-over mark she was going at a Strike Rate of over 100, and she pretty-much maintained that throughout her innings.
Lamb’s selection tonight was the only change to the names on the team-sheet from the World Cup final – it was Lamb in for Shrubsole – but the lineup was definitely a new look for ODIs, with Lamb opening alongside Beaumont and Dunkley coming in at 3, with Nat Sciver staying at 4 and Knight shuffling down the order to 5; and then Wyatt in at 6 and Amy Jones at 7.
It’s a long batting line-up, but it means only 4 bowlers and leaves England either trying to get a full quota out of Nat Sciver, or fill in with Lamb (who did the job for a couple of overs tonight) or Knight. I’d be more comfortable with 5 bowlers, but with Amy Jones struggling in international cricket – she’s made just one 50 in her last 12 innings – England are obviously nervous about the batting. Is it time to look at another wicket-keeper? The problem is that she is far-and-away the best keeper, so she keeps her spot for the moment for that alone, but the very best international teams don’t carry their keepers for long…
Given their margin of victory here, England should feel comfortable bringing in Bell for the next match at Bristol on Friday, at the expense of Wyatt. Not that Wyatt has done anything wrong, but it makes for a better-balanced team and gives England another attacking option with the ball, which (oddly, given they bowled South Africa out) did look to be lacking at times, especially when the Tryon-de Klerk partnership was starting to look like a thorn in England’s side.
As for South Africa, they would have known this tour wasn’t going to be an easy one; but without Ismail… without van Niekerk… and now without Lee… they really look very short of the mark. They saved the Test by blocking and successfully praying for rain, but there was no hiding behind the weather at Northampton – in the pounding heat, they wilted, and the rest of the tour could be about to get very, very sticky for them.
Emma Lamb played superbly – it was a chanceless innings and she barely put a foot wrong. Strong off her pads and harsh on anything wide outside her off stump (and South Africa bowled plenty out there for some reason!) Lamb produced a great mix of boundaries and strike rotation and never got bogged down. Absolute brilliance from her. And Sciver had a fine game as well. Good stuff from England. Anyone else a bit concerned about Tammy at the moment? She looks a bit scratchy and has been short of runs for a while.
Great to see Lamb do so well, but my heart sank when I saw that Blunt and Wyatt were back in the side again. We should be building a side now that we think could challenge the Aussies in 4/5 year…not pick a team to prove that England are comfortably the 2nd best side in the World, but miles behind Australia.
This is a poor SA side that England will comfortably defeat, and we should be getting as many international matches into Wong/ADR and potentially others as possible…. we should not be allowing the old pro’s to use the Commonwealth games as their swansong to the detriment of developing the next generation of international players.
Blunt, Wyatt, Winfield -Hill etc have been great servants but it is time to move on..they are not the future.
If age is your sole criteria (and its the only criteria you have used in your comment) then Beaumont and Knight, both older than Wyatt, would have to be removed from the side as well.
I wasn’t clear, Brunt is hanging on and will have retired before the next Ashes…in the words of Robinson when he got rid of Lottie “players don’t grow in her shadow”…the same for Brunt…Wyatt has had so many chances and never consistently delivers…unlike Beaumont/Knight who are are only 2 World Class batters
Beaumont’s not produced much for a while now actually. She’s due a score but not looking in good nick. There is an argument for Bell / Davies / Wong to be starting, I was surprised at least one of them didn’t. I’m pretty fed up of Ashes games and could do with a year or ten till the next one tbh. It’s nice to move outside the mental zone where England are defined by their results against Australia occasionally.
You may not have picked the best time to make your point of dispatching Wyatt and saving Beaumont and Knight because the stats suggest Wyatt isn’t doing all that poorly.
If you look at their last 10 ODI batting performances Beaumont is “only” averaging 27.80 (compared to career 41.37), Heather is only averaging 18.625 (compared to career 36.21) whilst Wyatt, with 24.375 has surpassed her career average of 22.10.
However, taking your general point, I’d be surprised if England did not rotate their bowlers across the remaining ODIs and T20s against South Africa.
There is no right and wrong with experience policy. Perhaps England simply intend to replace a player when they retire or under perform. Yes, that’s a sink or swim scenario for the replacement but that’s top level professional sport .