T20 WORLD CUP – England v West Indies: Paarl-ez Vous Bazball

With temperatures in the middle at Boland Park in Paarl pushing 40 degrees, the heat hardly needed to be turned up any more; but England did it anyway – winning the opening game of their T20 World Cup campaign with 5 overs to spare, thanks to a brutal batting display which will inevitably be compared to Bazball.

England have been acclimatising in South Africa for a couple of weeks now, but Paarl is always hotter than England’s base at Stellenbosch, closer to the coast near Cape Town; and locals here in Paarl say this is one of the hottest Februarys they can remember. The last place you want to be at the height of the afternoon is out in the field, but that’s exactly where England found themselves, having lost the toss with Hayley Matthews choosing to bat.

Matthews herself got off to a decent start, making 37off 23 balls in the powerplay. Unfortunately, as if to emphasise the Windies’ current dependence on Matthews, this was 90% of their runs off the bat during the powerplay, with Stafanie Taylor at the other end looking desperately out of touch. Matthews had admitted in the pre-match press conference that it was touch and go for Taylor coming back from injury, and she was eventually put out of her misery two balls after the end of the powerplay for just 3 off 15 balls.

England won’t be completely satisfied with the start they allowed the West Indies to make. Lauren Bell couldn’t get her lines right as she struggled to control her swing, and though she got away with it in her first over, conceding just 3, two of which were wides – one down leg and one down off – she wasn’t so fortunate in her second, as Matthews took her for 12, including 3 more wides. Brunt and Ecclestone also took some dents in their metalwork from Matthews.

But England’s spinners began to wrestle back control in the post-powerplay overs; with the West Indies Strike Rate dropping close to 75 in the early middle phase, mostly as a result of Matthews falling back as she failed to find a single boundary to add to the 8 4s she had struck during the powerplay before she was dismissed in the 11th over.

Nonetheless, the West Indies had enough wickets intact to be able to throw the bat a bit at the end, taking themselves from 106-3 to 135-7 in the death phase to give England something to chase.

As they’d promised to do, England came out of the traps at full pelt, with Danni Wyatt and Sophia Dunkley hitting and running fearlessly. It is high-risk cricket – neither lasted the powerplay, and both could have been out even sooner than they were, but it gave England the kind of confident start that takes the pressure off everyone else, and later enabled Nat Sciver-Brunt and Heather Knight to play a slightly less risky (though ultimately no less productive) game through the middle overs to carry England to the win with 5 overs to spare.

The real positive from this is that it definitely feels like England had a lot more in the tank if they needed it. Nat Sciver-Brunt and Knight actually weren’t playing Bazball by the end, but they were still going at strike rates of 133 and 145 respectively.

At the end of the day, for all Heather Knight’s talk in the press conference of taking it one game at a time, she knows that this tournament isn’t about beating the West Indies in the opener – it is about beating Australia in the final, and England won’t do that unless they take a few risks. They haven’t suddenly become favourites for the tournament; but they’ve made a very positive start, and right now, that’s all we can ask.


One thought on “T20 WORLD CUP – England v West Indies: Paarl-ez Vous Bazball

  1. It was a very good performance from England. I thought we perhaps gave away a few too many extras with a little bit of wayward bowling at times, but given the hot conditions the fielding held up well, and the spinners did a good job of slowing up the West Indies. I really like the new selection of playing Ecclestone, Glenn and Dean in the same side. It feels like a natural fit – but it was something that under Keightley England seemed reluctant to do. Lewis seems happy to go that way, though. England’s ultra-aggressive batting really stunned the West Indies bowlers and got us off to a fast start. A big chunk of the runs came in the powerplay and England top order wasted no time in knocking off the total, in very stylish and ruthless fashion. This Paarl pitch is a slightly strange one, generally good for batting but a bit two paced and the odd ball keeping low. It was also dry and offered plenty for the spinners. Combined with a big-ish outfield it made for plenty of 3s.

    The opener on Friday night had been a classic, a very tight nailbiter that SA just failed to get over the line in. What they really needed was some middle order experience to see them through. What they really needed was DVN, of course! I hate to harp on about it, but she is a staggering omission on CSA’s part. But, I think Sri Lanka impressed everybody with a (surprisingly) complete and accomplished performance, with young Vishmi Gunaratne playing a lovely innings to complement Athapaththu. They scored just enough runs to give themselves a chance, and were tidy enough with the ball. It’s back to the drawing board for SA. Surprised Goodall and Dercksen aren’t playing to be honest.

    In the second game today NZ crumbled to a big defeat after losing their leading lights early, in what turned out to eventually be a pretty woeful batting display. But they had earlier caused Australia an issue or two, with Tahuhu in particular doing plenty of damage. It’s almost unheard of for the Aussies to be nearly bowled out in a T20, but that’s what happened here – it was a worrying collapse for them, losing 6 wickets in the last 6 overs. One might almost think Australia were trying a bit of Bazball themselves, having been previously renowned for keeping wickets in hand. Now there’s a frightening thought for any would-be challenger to their crown…


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