England were intent on clinching the series at the first opportunity at the 3aaa Ground Derby. On another lovely day for cricket things didn’t go all their way, but the White Ferns could see the writing on the wall and only rarely managed to show their true worth. Long before the end of the game at ten past seven on a golden evening, they looked totally lost.
Heather Knight didn’t help their cause by winning the toss and choosing to bat first. Her side showed one change, Danielle Wyatt replacing Lauren Winfield at No 6.
Holly Huddleston and Lea Tahuhu (pictured above) were marginally more accurate than at Headingley – Huddleston sending down one demanding maiden – but Amy Jones and Tammy Beaumont got England going with 40 before Jones repeated her failing of playing a loose shot when apparently set (20). Beaumont pleased the most responsive crowd of the tour with the day’s biggest knock of 67, then Nat Sciver packed a real punch with her 54 to set her side on the road to a demanding total. Katherine Brunt helped the cause with a well-struck 25.
The total of 241 was achieved without major contributions from Sarah Taylor, Heather Knight or Wyatt. This is a central reason for the hosts’ domination of the series: somebody will come along to keep the show going. Not a recipe for odds-on victories against Australia, but a good starting-point.
Of the bowlers only Sophie Devine (2 for 26) and Jess Watkin (2 for 30) could really hold England in check. Twelve wides didn’t help their cause.
Could New Zealand shake off the self-doubts about their batting? Katie George began nervously, conceding three fours off her first over. But a prime reason for the selectors’ faith in her is her attitude of ‘Ever onward’. She had an instant reward with the prized capture of Sophie Devine’s wicket (13), then profited from Amy Satterthwaite’s sad loss of form when she was beaten all ends up.
At the other end, Suzie Bates was not her usual self. By the time she stepped away to cut a straight ball from Laura Marsh and was castled, she had mustered only 24 runs from 50 balls. It was as if her responsibilities were starting to weigh her down.
England’s outfielding reached new heights of excellence. Shot after shot was cut off by an alert infield, the crowd responding with warm applause each time. So even when White Fern batters managed to hang around for a while, they couldn’t raise the run-rate anywhere near the required 5 per over. For them this was a dismal attempt to correct the Headingley failings. The final contest at Grace Road Leicester will reveal much about their character as well as their cricketing abilities.
England’s spinners have the most to crow about. Between them, Marsh, Knight and Sophie Ecclestone returned figures of 21 overs, 4 maidens, 51 runs and 5 wickets. Ecclestone’s analysis reads a quite ridiculous 8-2-14-3. It will be fascinating to see her up against the world’s best in the coming months. Her temperament is as remarkable as her accuracy.
New Zealand 117