Amy Jones covered herself in glory as she won Player of the Match and Player of the Series and celebrated her 26th birthday. Can a cricket statistician come up with a similar triple-decker? And she helped England cruise to a 3-0 whitewash over the hapless West Indians.
If possible, the weather at Chelmsford was worse than at Worcester. We were lucky to get a game in at all.
It started raining just as play began at 2 pm. The game went ahead as Jones and Tammy Beaumont reached 43-0; then a rain break till 5 o’clock. Amazingly, a 39-over game was completed without further interruption, but at the cost of frozen figures on and off the field.
The visitors had few answers to the quality and depth of England’s batting. Of the first five at the crease only Danni Wyatt (12) failed to reach 40. Jones and Sarah Taylor batted beautifully to post 80 and 70. Beaumont was netted lbw for 46 by Afy Fletcher, the only bowler to go for under 6 runs per over Heather Knight showed her adaptability by playing a T20-type innings of 40* off just 19 balls.
Stafanie Taylor had won the toss for the first time and invited the hosts to bat, so her side can’t complain that they had by far the worst of the conditions, as a beastly day turned into a beastlier evening. But it was her team’s misfortune that, for the second time, they were left facing a target much bigger than England’s total. Such are the workings of the D/L method.
In the first over Hayley Matthews hit Kate Cross for 6 over mid-wicket, then struck the next ball like a rocket square of cover.
What followed might be called ‘The Catch of the XXX’ – and you can fill in the time-span of your choice once you have seen Fran Wilson’s catch.
Suffice it to say, the moment she reappeared with it safely in her hands, she disappeared from view, enveloped by the entire team whooping their delight and astonishment. She took off to her left and caught the ball in the horizontal several feet off the ground. Her task then was to keep hold of it as she returned to earth from space. She did.
This set the tone for the rest of the innings. Cross completed her third great spell on the trot (2 for 16 off 6 overs). Sophie Ecclestone proved as canny as ever (2 for 27 off 8).
Knight wisely brought the debutant Bryony Smith on early with her off-spin, and she gained a maiden wicket with a catch at long-on.
None of the West Indian batters could claim to have got on top of the bowling, but Kycia Knight played a dogged knock of 38 and Stacy-Ann King showed some flourishes lower down with a score of 26.
Sadly for her side, the skipper, Stafanie Taylor, had to go to hospital for a scan before she could get to the wicket. The innings fizzled out in the gloaming for a paltry 131.
England: 258-4 (Jones 80, Taylor 70, Beaumont 46, Knight 40*)
West Indies: 131
England won by 135 runs (DLS method)
A Look Back
For this third and last ODI Mark Robinson announced an initial squad of 13 which included three of the four not to have figured thus far. Alex Hartley was the unlucky one, allowed to return home without appearing.
In her place Bryony Smith of Surrey was included and she made her debut as a bowler, not a batter. Katherine Brunt, Laura Marsh and Nat Sciver were all rested, though you suspect none of them felt the need.
The batting looked confident and strong. if there is a minor criticism, you wonder why the reverse sweep is so beloved when it gets people out so often (twice today). It was introduced as a means to exploit a hole in the field behind point. When there is a fielder placed precisely there (sometimes two), is it the wisest option? Wouldn’t an orthodox shot bring greater rewards and less hazard?
The bowling has improved in depth and accuracy over last year. The back-up seam bowlers were hardly in evidence – Jenny Gunn was given a spell at Chelmsford, but Nat Sciver bowled hardly at all and Georgia Elwiss was absent. The three quicks all bowled beautifully.
The spinners all took wickets, Ecclestone once more leading the way.
The out-cricket rarely lapsed. There were three fumbled catches at Leicester, but overall the ground fielding, catching and throwing reached a very high standard.
And then there was Sarah Taylor keeping wicket. How many times has she fielded a less than accurate throw and still hit the stumps unerringly to leave the batter an agonising millimetre short of her ground? It happened once more in this third game.
It takes England to a run of 13 consecutive victories in all formats. There are three T20s against the same opposition to come, then the acid test – can they maintain these standards against the menacing Australians?
The England XI
Heather Knight (C)
Sarah Taylor (W-K)
The West Indies XI
Stafanie Taylor (C)
Kycia Knight (W-K)