Image Credit: [Associated Press]
After a bright tournament, England’s women lose to arch rivals Australia in the World T20 final by 8 wickets
England Women’s Cricket Team fell to a heavy defeat in the World T20 final on Saturday night, losing to Australia by 8 wickets, failing to add to their World Cup 50-over triumph in 2017. It was a thoroughly disappointing end to what had been a positive tournament for England. Posting 105 all out, with only Danni Wyatt (43) and Heather Knight (25) reaching double figures, was never going to be enough. Australia knocked off the target with ease, as Ashleigh Gardner (33*) and skipper Meg Lanning (28*) saw the ‘Southern Stars’ home with 29 balls to spare, winning the tournament for the fourth time since its inaugural edition in 2009.In the words of legendary ex-England captain, Charlotte Edwards, England just “didn’t turn up” in Antigua.
England’s tournament started in Group A with a wash-out against Sri Lanka, before defeating Bangladesh by 7 wickets (DLS method) and South Africa also by 7 wickets. Their final group game resulting in a 4-wicket defeat to West Indies with 3 balls to spare, ensuing a second-place finish, setting up a semi-final against Group B winners India. England then secured a resounding 8-wicket win against the ‘women in blue’, before the disappointing defeat in the final.
There were plenty of positives to take from the tournament as a whole. Nat Sciver and Anya Shrubsole demonstrated their class throughout, outlining their roles as the indispensable cogs of this team. Shrubsole stepped up in the absence of the injured Katherine Brunt, taking 7 wickets and going at a measly 4.88 runs an over, which included a memorable hat-trick against South Africa. Sciver went at an even more impressive 3.67 runs per over, opening the bowling and, whilst her batting may have not been as fruitful as she had liked, she scored a match-winning 52* in the semi-final against India.
It must be acknowledged that England were also without the absent Sarah Taylor, arguably the best keeper-batter in women’s cricket, as the ECB continue to manage her ongoing battle with anxiety. Yet, in her absence, the performances of her stand-in Amy Jones were impressive, with her averaging 53.50 and also being England’s top run scorer in the tournament, including a classy 53* in the semi-final against India.
Coupled with Jones’ performances was the emergence of some exciting young prospects. Kirstie Gordon, a left arm spinner and only 21, made her debut in England’s first game against Bangladesh and went on to be England’s top wicket-taker with 8 wickets, excelling on the spin friendly pitches in The Caribbean. Similarly, 19-year-old Sophie Ecclestone’s stock continued to rise as she led England’s spin attack, picking up 5 wickets. In the batting department, 20-year-old Sophia Dunkley of Surrey Stars made an impressive start to her international career, which included an important 35 against West Indies.
England’s tight bowling throughout the tournament was notable as they often restricted their opposition when bowling first and it is no coincidence that England won every game when bowling first and lost their two games when batting first, perhaps suggesting that the batting line-up wasn’t firing on all cylinders.
Similarly, being critical, England’s fielding let them down on a few occasions, including some costly dropped catches against West Indies.
However, a runners-up medal following England’s historic World Cup win at Lords last year along with the fact that Taylor and Brunt were both absent shows that the future is bright for English cricket and Women’s cricket as a whole. With this showpiece event being the first stand-alone Women’s World T20, West Indies were great hosts and good crowds were on show throughout.