England v New Zealand – First T20
Tammy Beaumont took charge of the game with a dominant 97, failing to reach her century only in the last over. A scoop off the penultimate ball finished in Brooke Halliday’s hands at short fine-leg.
Sophie Devine sent England in, but her bowlers came under early pressure, Beaumont and Danni Wyatt mixing fours with quick singles and doubles. When Wyatt (14) skipped down the pitch to be stumped by Katey Martin, the pace redoubled with England’s in-form batters.
Nat Sciver (14) stepped to leg to miss a straight one from Hayley Jensen, but Amy Jones continued her fine form to add 53 in four overs with Beaumont.
It was hard to work out why Amy Satterthwaite bowled her off-breaks round the wicket. The moment she switched sides, she had Jones stumped for a hard-hitting 31.
That brought Sophia Dunkley (23*) to the crease, a daunting sight for under-pressure bowlers. In six overs she added 50 with the ever-inventive Beaumont. Despite her success taking Sciver’s wicket Jensen went for a record 54 runs off her four overs.
It was the fate of the debutant Emma Lamb to enter the fray for the very last ball of the innings at the bowler’s end. Such is the nature of short-format cricket. More on that below.
A total beyond reach?
England’s total of 184-4 was over 30 more than the White Ferns have ever achieved chasing against England, and their brief preparation (including a match against the England A team) was hardly sufficient.
They have been over-dependant on their star players, Sophie Devine, Susie Bates and Amy Satterthwaite, for too long. They were glad to welcome Bates back from injury, but both she and Devine were undone in the first three overs. Katherine Brunt and Tash Farrant producing balls of quality to find a way through their defences.
So it was Satterthwaite’s turn to play the leading role. She produced some belligerent strokes in compiling 43, but was deceived by Brunt’s back-of-the-hand ball which was brilliantly caught low down by Mady Villiers in the deep.
For the rest of the innings it left too much to be done, though Maddy Green, Jensen, Hannah Rowe and Jess Kerr all hit some good runs. It will need major contributions from them in the coming games.
All England’s bowlers played their part, all took wickets. Only the irrepressible Brunt remained economical as well (a rate of 3), but all presented problems that the Ferns found hard to solve.
Result: England won by 46 runs
England 184-4 (20 overs)
New Zealand: 138 (18-5 overs)
Heather Knight was a late cry-off with a hamstring injury, Nat Sciver taking over the captaincy.
With the enforced absence of the new picks, Charlie Dean and Maia Bouchier, Lamb was given her first cap at No 6. But with the top batters in such commanding form, it was no surprise that she was fated not to face a ball. Will she have to make way for her restored captain at Hove?
This would show the grave disadvantage of T20 cricket (and its even briefer offspring The Hundred). Batters have to be in luck to play a proper innings. Bowlers already know they will have a maximum of 24 deliveries at their disposal, but life isn’t easy when you spend the evening gnawing the top of your bat, then leaving it unused.
Once more Lisa Keightley picked all three spinners, Ecclestone, Glenn and Villiers, though not one of them was able to complete a full four overs. On such small rations are cricketers fated to exist in the favoured forms of the game these days.
Essex could claim a full house, which was an encouraging follow-up to the success of The Hundred. But there was talk of crowd restrictions still in place to reduce the overall capacity of the Chelmsford ground. This was hard to understand when you saw spectators packed tightly in some areas, with large gaps left in others.
It was wonderful to see Enid Bakewell picked out in the crowd by the cameras. Perhaps one day she will have a competition named after her. And there are other greats of the past who deserve similar recognition.
If only Australia hadn’t beaten England there once, the ground could really claim to be Fortress Chelmsford.
BBC2’s presence meant a large captive TV audience, which was excellent. The contributions from the Lancashire duo, Kate Cross and Alex Hartley, added enormously to the gaiety of the occasion. They blend wisdom with light-heartedness in the most endearing manner. The 5live sports extra team was also present, with Lauren Winfield-Hill offering further valuable insights for the listening audience.
Next stop Hove on Saturday at 7 pm.