At about twenty-to-two this afternoon, a stylishly dressed young woman in a white ‘T’ and designer jeans slipped out of the media box at Worcester and headed down onto the pitch in front of the pavilion, where she was handed a royal-red cap by a member of England’s management team.
That woman was Tash Farrant, and the cap was for her South East Stars team-mate Alice Capsey, making her England debut at the age of 17, almost exactly two years to the day since The Editor™ had predicted during the 2020 London Cup match that Capsey would be opening the batting for England within 5 years!
A year later Capsey was scoring a fifty on her debut at Lords in The Hundred, and suddenly everyone was talking about the teenager from Surrey. The hype was getting real, but Heather Knight still seemed slightly sceptical, acknowledging her talent but saying she was “one for the future”.
Well apparently, the future is now – as of 2:30pm today, Alice Capsey is an England cricketer – something that few achieve, and none will ever be able to ever take away from her.
Capsey’s long England career… and believe me, it will be a long England career… began with a win, as South Africa once again folded, though they did put up their best white-ball performance of the tour, setting England a chase of 148, after Anneke Bosch and Lara Goodall set things up, putting on 102 for the first wicket.
England will be (or should be) slightly concerned that it took them 10 overs to get the breakthrough, and it was Capsey who got her name in the scorebook, as Goodall’s horribly mistimed attempt to play a Danni Wyatt-esque “inside out” ended up in the hands of Nat Sciver. Capsey so nearly had a second as well, when Katherine Brunt took a catch on the boundary, but failed to hold on to the attempt to throw it back to herself as she stepped over the rope.
The problem with South Africa’s T20 batting order at the moment is that although logically it makes sense for Laura Wolvaardt to come in lower down the order in this format, she’s so much better than everyone else, that every ball not faced by her feels like a ball wasted, so in a sense, the long opening partnership actually worked to England’s advantage, and ultimately 148 never really looked like enough, even though the record will state that England won with “just” 6 balls remaining.
In the chase, Sophia Dunkley went off at 90mph again – she might only have made 23 today, but remember it’s the Strike Rate England are looking at, and they got it once more at 153!
Danni Wyatt, on her way to a Player of the Match winning 39, was also going at over 150, which meant that even though England lost a few wickets later on, the result never seemed in doubt, with Maia Bouchier coming in at the end and producing the goods in a quite a pressured situation. (I’d hesitate to quite call it “high pressure” (and indeed have just deleted those very words) because South Africa were so bad in the field – though Sune Luus took probably the catch of the series, they were so bad otherwise that they ended up laughing at themselves, because… I guess… sometimes that’s all you can do when the gods aren’t looking your way!)
Again, there is a quick turn-around, with England travelling to across the midlands ahead of the final match in the series in Derby on Monday evening. I’d not be surprised to see Nat Sciver captaining again, with the status Heather Knight’s hip injury unclear (being “assessed and treated” according to England); and I really hope they will give Freya Kemp a game, perhaps resting Katherine Brunt, whose statement this week that she wanted to play “all eight” of the T20 matches in the next three weeks (the 3 South Africa matches, 3 Commonwealth Games group matches, plus the semi and final) looks like a challenge to the fates if I ever heard one! Especially with the T20 leg also now won, England can afford the opportunity to see what Kemp can do, and also push Capsey up the order to give her the chance with the bat she didn’t get today, maybe coming in at 3?
And then it is on to Birmingham. With Australia’s warm-ups in Ireland severely curtailed by rain, England might never have a better chance to take home that gold medal; and this is an exciting England team that might just take it.