2ND ODI (25/02/21)
England (194/3) beat New Zealand (192 all out) by 7 wickets with 12.2 overs remaining
When 86,000 packed the Melbourne Cricket Ground in March 2020 for the T20 World Cup Final, we thought we were past the point of every women’s series being a referendum on The State of The Women’s Game™. But with boards de-prioritising women’s cricket throughout the pandemic, the sport has had to fight for space once again.
Case in point: England, the 50-over world champions and a well-funded team with a now-professional domestic set-up, went to New Zealand having not played an ODI for 14 months.
Though Lisa Keightley became head coach in October 2019, the just-concluded first two games of this series were her first ODIs in charge, and they could hardly have gone better. England’s bowlers twice blew through the hosts to leave Tammy Beaumont and the top order to make simple chases look even simpler. The victories mean England have the series sealed with one to play.
On the idyllic grass banks of Christchurch’s Hagley Oval and Dunedin’s University Oval, fans have revelled in having games to watch and heroes to cheer. But only Brooke Halliday, called up for her international debut after a good List A season with bat and ball for Northern Districts, has stood out for New Zealand with her 50 and 60 from number seven.
Opener Hayley Jensen did provide some resistance for New Zealand in the first ODI, stroking 53 off 58, but the top order collapsed around her.
Tash Farrant, whose strong domestic performances earned her an England recall after more than seven years out of the ODI reckoning, proved an excellent new-ball partner to Katherine Brunt, and a more than adequate replacement for the injured Anya Shrubsole.
When Jensen chopped on to leg-spinner Sarah Glenn, and Amelia Kerr chipped Freya Davies to Sophie Ecclestone at mid-off, Halliday found herself coming out to bat on debut with her side 104/5 off 27 overs.
After taking another catch, this time at mid-on, to dismiss wicket-keeper Katey Martin off England captain Heather Knight, Ecclestone dismissed Frances Mackay and Hannah Rowe in consecutive balls.
These were her 100th and 101st international wickets, which she has taken for a remarkable all-format average of 19.41. As New Zealand subsided further, the left-arm spinner was the only England bowler required to complete her 10 overs.
Halliday’s sparkling front-foot strokeplay was the only point of light for the White Ferns before she was desperately run out trying to keep debutant no.11 Fran Jonas, just 16 years old, off strike.
Danni Wyatt missed out in England’s reply, driving Jensen to Amy Satterthwaite at cover, but Beaumont was rarely troubled in her serene progress to a 17th ODI 50-plus score.
Beaumont was eventually dismissed for 71 by Lea Tahuhu, who became the cause of another New Zealand headache when she sustained a hamstring injury that has ruled her out of the rest of the series.
Tahuhu, by way of biographical interest, is married to Satterthwaite, who spent much of 2020 on maternity leave after giving birth to the couple’s first child.
Knight and Nat Sciver knocked off the remaining 45 runs at better than a run a ball to inflict a 10th straight ODI defeat on the White Ferns. Two days later, 430 miles down the South Island’s State Highway 1 in Dunedin, 10 became 11.
This time the new-ball damage was done by Brunt and Sciver. Perhaps taking out some of their frustration at having their wedding delayed by the pandemic, they combined bounce and movement to leave New Zealand reeling at 28/4 after 10 overs.
That became 53/4 when Kate Cross, in for Davies in the only change England have made all series, had Satterthwaite caught behind trying to steer past slip.
With Beaumont taking a good catch at deep square leg to prise out the obdurate Martin off Glenn, and Maddy Green run out, Halliday once more found herself running out of partners.
She eventually nicked the returning Sciver to Amy Jones who, if not quite a match for the phenomenal Sarah Taylor, showed again she is a very good wicketkeeper up to the stumps even against seam.
Only a sprightly 9th wicket stand of 53 between Rowe and Jess Kerr held England up before it was their turn with the bat. While Wyatt was dismissed early again and Knight was run out for 8, Beaumont once more anchored the chase with a near-chanceless knock of 72*.
She scored slower than in the first ODI, but with Sciver scoring 63 and and Jones 46*, both at over a run a ball, victory was again a formality.
There are long-term concerns about the backup to England’s top five. Jones for Taylor has the only lasting change to the top order since that 2017 World Cup win. As leading women’s cricket website CricketHer pointed out after the second ODI, there is a danger of a wholesale generational change being forced upon England if the transition isn’t managed right.
However, for now, England look well set to challenge a revenge-minded Australia and a developing India come their defence of the title won so memorably that afternoon at Lord’s. New Zealand on the other hand, who will host that 2022 World Cup, have a lot of questions to answer.