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England caught napping

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England v New Zealand – Third ODI at Leicester

What do these numbers have in common?

93, 77, 53 and
4, 1, 6

Yes, they are the scores of the top three Australian batters and ditto the English, scored on the same day. I’ll leave you to guess which is which.

India set Australia to get 226 to win in Mackay, Queensland. They carelessly lost a wicket as they cantered to an overwhelming win. A few hours later New Zealand chalked up their second win on the trot at Grace Road Leicester after a lamentable batting display by England’s top six (the remaining three scores were 21, 6 and 10).

What looked like the second most powerful line-up in world cricket has dissolved into self-doubt. In three attempts they haven’t yet batted through the full 50 overs. Even Heather Knight has caught the disease, poking uncharacteristically at a ball outside the off-stump to be caught behind.

Lea Tahuhu’s bowling was excellent. Early on she got movement both vertical and lateral that left experienced batters unsure what to play, what to leave.

Her haul of 10-1-37-5 did her huge credit after the traumatic illness she suffered. She was supported by a debutant, Molly Penfold, who took 2-42 and showed what a tall young quickie can achieve with a good action. She is 20, with a single season of elite cricket behind her.

Lauren Bell is a tall young quickie aged 20 with a good action and several years of experience behind her. Do England select her? No fear.

Once more England were indebted to the lower order for achieving the half-respectable total of 178. 27-4 became 78-7 as embarrassment spread across the home benches.

But England bat all the way down, so that’s fine.

Katherine Brunt showed she had benefited by resting from the previous ODI. As the No 8, she had to enter the fray as early as the 17th over and 59 on the board. She stayed to the bitter end, just deprived of a merited third 50 of her career (49*) when Tash Farrant fell lbw to Hayley Jensen for 12.

The last three wickets put on exactly 100 runs.

The Kiwi Reply

Brunt saw off the openers, Lauren Down and Suzie Bates inside seven overs. Maddy Green at No 3 (73*) found a sound partner in Amy Satterthwaite (33). They put on 72 together, but when Charlie Dean lured Satterthwaite into a lofted catch to Sophie Ecclestone and Sophie Devine decided to play a cross-batted swish at Brunt – her 300th wicket for England, what an achievement! – Green’s shoulders had a weight to bear.

Brooke Halliday (25) kept her company for the next 52 runs, but when she was cleaned up by Farrant, you could sense the demons starting to play on Kiwi minds; it was an age since they last won an ODI. Both Katey Martin and Jensen fell cheaply, but Tahuhu was determined to finish as she had started – right on top. Time and runs were not the problem; wickets and minds were.

As Farrant was called up to bowl the 46th over, Tahuhu decided the time was ripe. Three lusty blows, 4, 4, 6, finished the job like a butcher’s knife.

New Zealand have bought the series back to 2-1 and regained their self-respect.

There is plenty that is still in good working order for the English. But somehow the batters must get their minds settled before the next duel, on Thursday 23 September at Derby (Start: 1 pm)

England 178 (48.3 overs)
New Zealand 181-7 (45.5 overs)
New Zealand win by 3 wickets