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England v Sri Lanka – First T20

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1st Central County Ground, Hove
30 August 2023


A memorable piece of news broke on the eve of the opening match of the Sri Lankan tour: England’s women players would receive the same match fees as the men, with immediate effect. This was one of the recommendations made by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket.

An England Development side had posted 118 runs against the visitors earlier in the week. Was that a portent of things to come?

The Game

Players’ hoods were up as they exited the coach at the ground. The prospects weren’t good. The game was delayed long enough to be reduced to a 17-over slogathon.

Chamari Athapaththu won the toss and, all too predictably, invited the opposition to take first strike.

Danni Wyatt was taking no prisoners. She hit a four, then a six. After two overs she and Maia Bouchier had vaulted to 28-0. Kawya Kavindi revealed some nerves as she bowled three wides in an over. After six overs England had reached 66-0, Bouchier supporting her partner well. In an over from Inoka Ranaweera she smote her for her own brand of six into the crowd.

Then came her reckoning: a brilliant throw from Kavisha Dilhari found her just short of the line. (22/18). In came Alice Capsey to cast any remaining doubts about her ability into the bin. She lost Wyatt who fell just short of what had looked like the fastest 50 since… last week? (48/30, seven 4s, one 6). But the Surrey youngster hit a wonderful 51 off a mere 27 deliveries (7×4, 3×6!); she won’t forget the 14th over in a hurry: she blasted Ranaweera for those three sixes into outer space.

England showed their intent by promoting Freya Kemp to No 4; it proved a masterly decision. The left-hander strikes a very clean ball a very long way. She added 20 runs off 10 balls, including one six. And her back still doesn’t allow her to bowl.

The captain started slowly, raising doubts once more about her place in the short-format game. But by the end she had amassed 23 off 17, so experience does matter.

England finished with a run-rate just short of 11 per over.

Sri Lanka’s Reply

It was the visitors’ misfortune to have their innings interrupted by increasing dollops of rain. They had started well; as they left the field Athapaththu and her young partner Vishmi Gunaratne had posted 23 runs off 3.1 overs. Each of England’s quicker bowlers had been hit to the boundary. Knight allowed a review for a hopeful lbw decision for the new recruit Gaur, but it failed.

There was a long break, but the groundstaff’s hard toil paid off; the game resumed at 9.30. Once more Messrs Duckworth, Lewis and Stern seemed to be laughing as the umpires calculated the new target: 68 off six overs – so 17 balls in which to score to 45 runs. Gettable, but a big ask.

Gaur’s first ball to the Sri Lankan captain was dismissed for six! But the youngster had the delight of taking her wicket, her first at this level, finding a top edge that was caught behind. Eight dots in her two overs speak volumes for her potential.

Knight showed wisdom in bringing on Charlie Dean as Sri Lankan bats were flailing. She went for only six runs in her solitary over.

In the end, the target proved unreachable. The skipper made her point by running out Nilakshi de Silva with a direct hit off the last ball.

Pretty typical weather for late summer; we can only hope for better in two days time.


England 186-4 in 17 overs @ 10.94
Sri Lanka 55-3 in 6 overs @ 9.16
England win by 12 runs (DLS method)
Player of the Match: Alice Capsey

The Teams


Danni Wyatt, Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsey, Heather Knight (captain), Amy Jones (wk), Freya Kemp, Danielle Gibson, Sarah Glenn, Charlie Dean, Kate Cross, Mahika Gaur

Note: Lauren Bell returned home after suffering a slight illness; she’ll miss Chelmsford too.
That left Lauren Filer, Bess Heath and Issy Wong to await their chance.

Sri Lanka

Harshitha Samarawickrama, Chamari Athapaththu (captain), Nilakshi de Silva, Vishmi Gunaratne, Kavisha Dilhari, Anushka Sanjeewani (wk), Inoka Ranaweera, Sugandika Kumari, Udeshika Prabodhani, Hasini Perera, Kawya Kavindi


Who’s in Charge?

How big a role does Heather Knight play in the running of the team? I ask because of the way she employs the pronoun ‘we’ when answering media questions.

When asking about Tammy Beaumont’s absence from the T20 squad, the BBC quotes her as replying: ‘…that (being more aggressive from ball one) is what we asked her to go away and do.’ Isn’t it the head coach’s job to set targets for players, not the captain?

Here’s a perennial thorny problem in cricket: who chooses the team: a single boss, a selection committee or either of those plus the captain?

Team Targets

Beyond this tour England’s eyes are set firmly on the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh, starting in a year’s time. Lewis’ selections for the current series will take that into account. He needs to see as many of the candidates as possible between now and then. Bell’s unexpected absence, though sad, simplifies selection a shade.

‘Sold Out’

By 18 August the Hove ground was already sold out. That calls into question the choice of grounds and their capacity. Both Hove and Chelmsford are distinctly limited in scope.

The remaining T20s

Saturday 2 September, The Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford
Wednesday 6 September, The Incora County Ground, Derby