T20 WORLD CUP – England v Ireland: From Bazball To Baseball

They say that the USA and UK are two countries divided by a common language; and much the same could be said about cricket and baseball. They may share some basic characteristics, and even some terminology; but they are very different games, not least in their typical scorelines: while cricket measures its scores in hundreds, a baseball game will rarely end with more than a handful of runs being scored.

So to say that the last few overs of England’s match today against Ireland in Paarl felt a little like watching baseball is not exactly a compliment – especially after the exhibition of Bazball (or should that be… Jonball?) to which we had been treated earlier by Alice Capsey, hitting the joint-fastest ever T20 World Cup half century.

Having opted to bat first, Ireland got off to a pretty reasonable start, losing just one wicket towards the end of the powerplay, as Amy Hunter and Gaby Lewis played positively to take them to 42-1 at the 6-over mark.

Indeed the Irish kept chugging along at around-about a run-a-ball right up until the 13th over, when England brought back Sophie Ecclestone with Ireland well-placed at 80-2. Ecclestone’s impact was immediate – a double-wicket maiden, including the key scalp of Lewis, which turned the course of the game. From 80-2 Ireland went downhill on skis, before finally ending up face-down in a hedge in the 19th over at 105, having lost 8 wickets for 23 runs.

Although England’s 3 spinners shared the wickets around – Ecclestone and Sarah Glenn taking 3 apiece, and Dean 2 – Ecclestone’s importance as England’s “trump card” had already been underlined when she was brought into the attack in just the 3rd over, after the openers had gone for 18 in the first two overs. Ecclestone delivered then too, conceding just 3 – every time England need “something” it is her they turn to.

England’s reply saw Capsey into the action in the first over, after Dunkley holed-out; and she took little time to reassert her claim to be the most exciting young player in the world right now, hitting her 2nd and 3rd balls for consecutive boundaries. The punishment was just beginning for the Irish bowlers. Eimear Richardson went for 3 consecutive 4s in the 4th over, and probably shouldn’t have been given another at that stage, but she was, and she psychologically imploded – delivering 3 balls to Capsey which would have been wides with 9 sets of stumps, and having to watch as Capsey brutally slapped them for 3 more consecutive boundaries – the last a maximum to bring up her half century.

With England 69-1 at the end of the powerplay, it was on-course to be done inside 8 overs; but the dismissal of Capsey somehow spooked England – they started to lose more wickets and forgot how to score runs – losing 3 wickets in the 5-over “early middle” phase and making just 20 runs at a strike rate of under 75 – practically baseball territory, at least by the standards England have set themselves recently.

With plenty of time on their side, England were in a position to inch towards the Irish total, and inch they did, with Heather Knight requiring 23 balls to make her 14 runs; and then suffering a bit of a comedy-dismissal to put the cherry on the cake, as the ball wobbled like Mr Blobby on his way home from a long night out, onto the stumps after a mis-hit sweep.

At the end of the day, all that really matters is that England got the points and a healthy boost to their Net Run Rate, should they need it. But the last few overs did serve to remind us that whilst Capsey and Ecclestone are the kind of players who can make stuff happen, England don’t have the depth of Australia; and that whilst Australia can play badly and still make 170-odd, England aren’t quite at that level yet.


One thought on “T20 WORLD CUP – England v Ireland: From Bazball To Baseball

  1. “With England 69-1 at the end of the powerplay, it was on-course to be done inside 8 overs” So you expected England to score 37 runs in 2 overs?!

    Not sure I agree Syd. You’re a bit harsh on England, this was pretty much a demolition job. England had 6 overs left and would have reached 150 plus. England stopped caring about losing T20 wickets in about 2015, and I’m more concerned now when more than a few overs go by without a wicket falling, questions must then be asked about if they are going hard enough! In all seriousness though, I don’t think the England batters give much/any regard to wickets until we’re at least 6 or 7 down. Sarah Glenn is number 10 for goodness sake.

    Whether you think the almost uncontrolled aggression is a good or bad thing (and I’ve spent a long time arguing for more selfishness from the batters and aiming for not-outs), we can’t do anything about it either way. It was obvious from what Jon Lewis said coming into the job, that rather than rein things in, England were going to go even harder. So the sound of wickets going down is something you’ll have to get ever more used to I think. It’s how many runs we get in the meantime that will matter most.


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