New Zealand thoroughly deserved their bronze medals in the play-off match at the Commonwealth Games, after restricting England to one of their lowest 1st innings totals in the history of T20 internationals.
Not to put too fine a point on it: New Zealand looked like they wanted the medals… England looked like they wanted to be somewhere else.
Having lost to England in the last match of the group stages, and been well beaten by Australia in their semi-final last night, with barely 12 hours between leaving the stadium last night and needing to be back here this morning, it wouldn’t have been surprising if it was New Zealand who looked tired and flat. That they came out fighting is credit to their leadership team.
The same cannot be said of England.
England talk a lot about being role models, but after one player was given an official reprimand yesterday for swearing on the field of play, the overriding image of England today was another being shown live on TV, smashing over a chair with her bat on her way back to the dressing room after being dismissed.
We can ask the question as to whether these bronze medal matches are needed or required – other sports in other tournaments just award both of the defeated semi-finalists a “shared” bronze medal – but everyone knew the deal coming into this tournament; and whilst frustrations do sometimes spill over for all of us – me very much included – we also sometimes need to accept that we’ve let ourselves down, front-up and apologise – not for losing in this case, but for losing badly with ill-grace.
The sight of the New Zealand players celebrating with selfies down on the outfield after the game, on the other hand, was lovely to see.
With a new coach and a new-look to their lineup, little was expected from the White Ferns at these Commonwealth Games. Getting to the semi-finals was probably over-par, after a slightly disappointing home World Cup, and so to come home with bronze medals was a fantastic achievement.
Although England were poor by their own standards, they did at least set New Zealand a chase that potentially made it interesting. It doesn’t happen a lot, but matches do occasionally get won by teams making less than 120 in the first innings, so it wasn’t quite a foregone conclusion. But the positive intent shown by Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates up top put New Zealand quickly in the driving seat. By the end of the powerplay they were over half way there, and Devine was able to push on to hit the winning run in the 12th over just after bringing up her half century.
It is probably just as well for England that we’ve got The Hundred coming up hot on our heels right now – there will be no time for the players to brood over the disappointment of the Commonwealths, but instead the chance to reset in a different environment, with different team-mates and different coaches. There will be some tough decisions for the management team to make ahead of the India series in September, but those decisions are for another day.
Right now, let’s just congratulate New Zealand and hope for a brilliant final between Australia and India this evening.