When the first of five T20’s between England and West Indies took place after six months’ hiatus on Monday September 21st, commentators were heard to relish confrontation between England’s pace bowler Anya Shrubsole, and ‘WIndies’ record-breaking all-rounder Deandra Dottin.
The fact that Dottin holds the record for the fastest T20 century, gave hope at least that she might hunt down any run-chase, irrespective of who was bowling. Put to the test, ‘radio five live’ commentators became quite bemused when WIndies were much slower to put runs on the board. 68 from 22 balls seemed possible. Once Dottin was out, the match swung irrevocably to England’s favour, WIndies needing 52 from 12 balls.
Why did Dottin’s match-winning capability give rise to false expectation? Dottin top-scored with 69, but Hayley Matthews and Stafanie Taylor netted only eleven runs between them. Firstly, I thought that Dottin seemed less inhibited against England’s trio of pace-women – when compared to Matthews and Taylor who ‘know better’ as they’ve gained valuable batting experience from playing in the T20 Kia super-league.
Secondly, both Dottin – and indeed fellow opener Hayley Matthews – found themselves peppered by ‘dot balls, Matthews snatching only one run from Katherine Brunt’s first over – followed by Dottin facing three ‘dot’ balls. When confronted by Anya Shrubsole (whose first ball went wide), Dottin hit a slower ball for ‘four.’
Thirdly, on the night, Dottin was forced to settle for ‘twos’ whenever Fran Wilson blocked ‘fours’ in the covers, putting the brakes on the scoreboard by cutting-off her favourite shot. Commentators welcomed England’s fielding that was reportedly ‘sharper than expected’ with plenty of spare time for practice – because of ‘covid-19.’
Also it should not go unnoticed that Deandre Dottin was undone by an error of judgment, clean bowled by Sophie Ecclestone, as the world’s top T20 bowler. By comparison, there was not much difference between the total number of runs scored by the top three batters on either side. Previously, England’s openers Tammy Beaumont and Danni Wyatt took-off at a much faster rate. By the 13th ball ‘Tam and Dan’ had struck their first three ‘fours.’ At 71-2 (and with Wyatt and Sciver gone), Beaumont was seen belting ‘fours’ and a ‘six’ instead of quick singles – scoring her seventh international ‘fifty’ in T20. Beaumont was later caught on 62 – making the top score from England’s respectable target of 163-8.
Concluding their commentary, Sports Extra commentators were quick to add that WIndies came back well with the ball, by taking those eight England wickets. They added that England had won 8 out-of-nine T20s – WIndies last won during 2012.
What happened in the remaining four matches largely depended upon top batting performances by Dottin, Taylor or Matthews. Matthews in particular seems long overdue for a big innings – the next match in the T20 series is on Wednesday.