England 197ao beat New Zealand 169ao by 13 runs (D/L method)
Charlie Dean marked her second outing in an England shirt with a four-wicket haul to guide England to a low-scoring thriller at New Road, beating New Zealand by 13 runs. The 20-year-old off-spinner took four for 36 after Danni Wyatt, returning to England’s ODI side for the first time this summer, salvaged England’s below-par innings with a 72-ball 63.
It was an unusual, topsy-turvy match affected in no small part by a lengthy rain delay. New Zealand will ultimately rue missing an opportunity to capitalise on a bowling performance which bowled out England for under 200.
That the visitors find themselves two-nil down in the five-match series followed an improbable turn of events. Twenty four overs into the chase and at 111 for four they were odds-on to overcome England’s 197 with relative ease. However, the original requirement of 87 runs from 26 overs, with six wickets in hand, was soon revised to 72 runs required from 18 overs. When the teams left the field, New Zealand had been ahead according to the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method; when play resumed, they were behind. Such are the vagaries of cricket, the English weather and the indecipherable formulae we so often place our trust in. It was a potent combination of factors which did for the tourists then, aided nevertheless by a healthy dose of their own fragility with the bat and some accurate, probing stuff from England with the ball.
Wyatt’s return to the England ODI fold was a successful one on many levels. Having entered the crease with England five down and just 85 runs on the board, not only did Wyatt finish unbeaten, she played with a composure and match awareness that England have long been seeking. It was one which England’s middle order might also pay attention to, having lost four wickets for 26 runs.
That Wyatt even had the opportunity to reach her half-century relied heavily on Tash Farrant, usually seen opening England’s bowling, but who combined to form England’s highest partnership of the innings. Remarkably, it was for the tenth wicket. That 51-run stand, the match’s only half-century partnership, helped England recover from a precarious 146 for nine. There was a bit of luck involved too (it is cricket after all), as Wyatt’s earlier 33-run partnership with the opener Lauren Winfield-Hill (39 from 66) was prematurely ended following a comical mix-up between the two. It took the television umpire to adjudge that Wyatt had not left her crease following the commotion, and it was Winfield-Hill, at that stage the more fluent of the pair, who had to depart.
An earlier version of Wyatt may have floundered under the pressure. Not this one, Wyatt quickly playing with a freedom and intent crucial to England’s revival. For a while, it had looked like deja vu at New Road. Leading into Sunday’s match England had lost four of their six ODIs at Worcester, including a defeat to India earlier this summer where they had failed to defend 219. Despite the win, England will be concerned that, in the four ODIs where they have batted first this summer, they have been bowled out on each occasion. On Sunday, there were still 39 balls left when the last wicket fell.
Thank goodness then for England’s bowling. Off-spinner Charlie Dean, in just her second ODI, and Kate Cross, fast establishing herself as England’s attacking spearhead, ensured that England’s batting problems were quickly covered up. Having already got a maiden wicket on debut, which will have helped to settle any lingering nerves, Dean was introduced into England’s attack after the rain break to make use of the skiddy, slippery conditions. She mopped up. Two LBWs, one bowled and one caught behind reflected an accuracy and skill which England will hope might partner the left-arm spin of Sophie Ecclestone for many years to come.
For Cross it was another accomplished display which set up the stage for Dean. Her opening spell, coming on at first change, demonstrated immaculate control to draw more false shots than any other bowler. Picking three of New Zealand’s top four was just reward for a bowler who now has 31 wickets at an average of 17 since the start of 2019.