Source: ECB

England show the Way – U19 T20 World Cup

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England v Zimbabwe, Potchefstroom

The result, even the margin, was what everyone expected, but there were so many positives the Zimbabweans can take from the game.

As with the other fifteen competing nations, they are at the start of a big adventure. They can derive a lot of lessons from this opening fixture; their skill levels will improve for sure.

For England fans it was a delight to see a complete national Under 19 XI take the field and put on a show. Though they are a pampered group in comparison with many of their rivals, they have usually had to take a back seat in the competitions staged back home: the Hundred, the Rachael-Heyhoe Trophy and the Charlotte Edwards Cup.

Here in Potchefstroom they could stand tall on their own in the fuil glare of a 31 degree sun and live television coverage.

The England Effort

Grace Scivens won the toss and decided to bat. Her partner, Libby Heap, was lucky to survive a dropped catch in the first over, but struck three 4s in the second. That was to be the shape of the whole innings: wayward fielding leading to dropped catches and leaked fours.

The fourth over alone cost 9 avoidable runs. It helped the openers raise 50 in under five overs. These errors continued until Heap stepped away to carve the ball and was clean bowled for 25 off 12. That brought in Niamh Holland who took the eye with her powerful stroke-making, especially straight back past the bowler.

By the end of the powerplay England had posted 67-1, a 10-per-over strike-rate they maintained till just short of the end of the innings.

The Zimbabweans may have been disconcerted by the very power of the English hitting, but it led to drooping shoulders, not least from the bowlers, who saw mishits go abegging.

Scrivens fell at last (45/32) yorked by a slower ball that swung in.

From here Charis Pavely and Niamh Holland added a decisive 87, the bowlers having to deal with a second left-hand/right-hand partnership, which played havoc with their accuracy. Holland struck the first six in the 12th over; Pavely added a second later on.

Holland reached England’s first 50 off 29 deliveries. The left-handed Pavely just failed to reach her deserved half-century, holing out near the end of the innings.

Davina Perrin, at 16 the babe of the team, and Ryana Macdonald-Gay did their darndest to bring up the double hundred, but couldn’t quite manage it.

Still, it was a daunting target for the Zimbabweans to reach.

Interestingly, the first shot out of the 21st century batting text-book was off the last ball of the innings, a delightful scoop by Perrin to the fine third man fence.

The Reply

In short, this was a procession.

Lizzie Scott (inswing) and Ellie Anderson (mostly away from the bat) caused the openers plenty of problems, but it was Sophia Smale who achieved the first breakthrough with her left-arm slows. She gives the ball plenty of air, but varies her pace and angles delightfully.

In no time Anderson, Smale and Scrivens had taken further wickets to reduce the opposition to a numbing 14-4. None of the batters managed to stay for any length at the crease, the bowling and outfielding stayed tight.

My only doubt by the end of such a brief innings was whether the skipper should have allowed herself four overs. She certainly produced the goods: she took 4 for 2, so there’s no arguing about that. But had the managemnt suggested who should be given the ball in this opening game? Were other bowlers deliberately held back for future operations?

As things turned out, there was no doubt about the Player of the Match award; it had to go to Grace Scrivens (45 and 4-2). Josie Groves and Sophia Smale, both 2-5, bowled beautifully too. Groves offers searching leg-breaks with a high arm that still produces worrying turn – quite a handful.


England 199
Zimbabwe 25
England win by 174 runs

Next Engand fixture:
17 January v Pakistan, 11.45 GMT, also at Potchefstroom