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Clean Sweep in the Offing – England v West Indies T20 – 4th Round

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England made it four out of four despite a much improved showing by the Windies in the first quarter of the game.

Heather Knight won the toss once again and chose to bat. The top order still isn’t functioning smoothly, Aaliyah Alleyne getting Danni Wyatt and Nat Sciver caught behind. Wyatt hasn’t scored big runs for a while now.

But unlike the opposition there are always willing hands to come to the rescue. Tammy Beaumont (27) started with a sequence of 4-2-4-1, to set the ball – literally – rolling, then the captain (42) was joined by Amy Jones who went on to hit the best score of the evening (55). They added 65 in 5.5 overs to take advantage of untidy bowling, field-settings and game-management. Not for the first time in the series, the visitors lost control of the situation, having pegged England back well in the early stages. A further 51 runs were hit in under six overs to raise England’s highest series total yet.

The West Indies altered their batting line-up once more, Lee-Ann Kirby joining Deandra Dottin at the start, but they fell for four runs apiece. Sophie Ecclestone came on to snaffle Shemaine Campbelle – she too pushed up the order – and the chase was already looking forlorn. English bowling was very accurate over the crucial first ten overs, although the Windies’ powerplay score was better than theirs.

But their underlying problem remains the lack of batting quality. Once the three main-line exponents are sorted, there is no certainty anyone else is going to last the course, and Hayley Matthews has found run-getting a trial recently. Between them they totalled 28. It was Chedean Nation who showed what was possible with controlled hitting. She reached 30 before she misjudged a run.

Sarah Glenn can take huge credit for again snaring Stafanie Taylor and Matthews in short order. When two off-spinners operated together before the break, the runs came tumbling. Ecclestone and Glenn leaked only 30 runs off seven overs for three wickets

The English fielding was ultra tight, with the usual few glaring exceptions. Jones kept wicket brilliantly again, but had the misfortune to drop her second and third high skiers of the series. There were sharp reactions to create two run-outs, to set against dropped catches in the outfield.

Knight’s captaincy was an object lesson for the West Indians. She kept control of her bowling changes and field-settings, especially when Chedean was threatening destruction.

Selection

England’s selection policy remains a mystery. For the first time in four goes a change was made, Sophia Dunkley replacing Fran Wilson at No 6. Almost inevitably, she lasted one legitimate delivery, driving the ball straight back to Matthews.. But Danni Wyatt retained her place, no doubt in the expectation that one day she will make the bowlers pay a high price. It hasn’t happened yet – she lasted four balls.

On the bowling front, no changes. The two openers have squatters rights; though Anya Shrubsole hasn’t recaptured her best form yet, she had bad luck with several searching deliveries.

The two main spinners are as good as it gets, and Mady Villiers was allowed two overs to add to the one she had last time out. She was less accurate this time, dropping a few deliveries short enough to be cut vigorously.

Of the five squad members who have not yet appeared, Lauren Winfield-Hill was allowed to leave camp to captain her Northern Diamonds in the big final at Edgbaston, but the opportunity to give experience to Freya Davies and Katie George has thus far been spurned. Kate Cross doesn’t need experience, but she fully deserves game time.

What are the plans for team-building? The RHF Trophy spotlighted a host of talented players, but there will be no chance of seeing them again for quite a while. It is hoped to send a team to New Zealand in February. Do you blood new talent out there, or against the West Indies at home, a team ranked four places lower (7th) than the Kiwis?

We can’t yet tell who Lisa Keightley is minded to parade in the last T20 on Wednesday, but if any of the omitted players are given the nod, it will be for a single match of much reduced importance. If she sticks to the tried and tested, then they must wonder whether staying inactive and bubble-bound is the happiest option in the new Covid-19 world.

Scores:

England 166-6
West Indies 122-9
England win by 44 runs to take a 4-0 lead

Player of the Match: Amy Jones

Teams
England: Heather Knight (captain), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Sarah Glenn, Amy Jones (wk), Nat Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Mady Villiers and Danni Wyatt.

West Indies: Stafanie Taylor (captain), Shabika Gajnabi, Hayley Matthews, Shemaine Campbelle, Chedean Nation, Shamilia Connell, Deandra Dottin, Lee-Ann Kirby, Shenate Grimmond, Aaliyah Alleyne and Karishma Ramharack

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