|Women’s Twenty20 tri-series final, The Cloudfm County Ground, Chelmsford:|
|New Zealand 137-9 (20 overs): Devine 31, Bates 31; Hazell 2-20, Brunt 2-26, Ecclestone 2-26|
|England 141-3 (17.1 overs): Wyatt 50, Beaumont 35; Kerr 2-22|
|England won by seven wickets|
England comprehensively outplayed New Zealand to win the women’s Twenty20 tri-series final by seven wickets.
New Zealand started well but struggled after openers Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates both fell for 31, and eventually posted a below-par 137-9.
England’s Danni Wyatt (50) and Tammy Beaumont (35) were soon peppering the boundaries in an opening stand of 81.
And the winning runs came with 17 balls to spare on a Chelmsford ground where England have won on every visit.
That proud record is now extended to 13 games – five one-day internationals and eight T20 matches – and never looked in doubt after New Zealand, who had been 84-2 in the 10th over, slumped in the second half of their innings.
The sides now meet in three one-day internationals, starting next Saturday (7 July) at Headingley.
England’s bowlers expose White Ferns’ lack of depth
New Zealand undoubtedly have one of the best opening partnerships in women’s cricket – as evidenced by their victory over South Africa in the opening game of this series, when Bates and Devine flogged South Africa for 182 in 18 overs at Taunton before they were separated.
However, a key factor in England’s three successive victories over the White Ferns has been their ability to remove one or both openers relatively cheaply – and exposing their inconsistent middle order as early as possible.
Apart from Devine and Bates, only two other New Zealanders reached double figures at Chelmsford as captain Heather Knight rotated her bowlers, mainly in one-over spells which did not allow the visitors to settle.
All five bowlers played their part, which will have pleased coach Mark Robinson who spoke before the series about trying to fine-tune his players’ Twenty20 skills before the Women’s World Twenty20 in the West Indies in November.
Katherine Brunt (2-26) earned the player of the match award after trapping Bates and Katey Martin lbw in the space of three deliveries, while miserly new-ball partner Anya Shrubsole bowled her third maiden over of the series, and rookie left-armer Katie George played her part by removing the big-hitting Jess Watkin cheaply.
Spinners Danielle Hazell (2-20) and the maturing Sophie Ecclestone (2-26) – named player of the series in which she was leading wicket-taker – were also able to put the brakes on in mid-innings, and are likely to be key players on the slow Caribbean pitches in November.
Kiwi spinners outgunned by England’s top order
With a low total to defend, New Zealand opted for a spin-heavy bowling attack, holding back pace spearhead Lea Tahuhu.
But the Kiwi slow bowlers lacked the control shown by Hazell and Ecclestone, posing little wicket-taking threat as Wyatt and Beaumont took advantage of Chelmsford’s short boundaries – with lofted drives, reverse sweeps, slog-sweeps and ramp shots ensuring no boundary was safe.
They did not give a chance until Wyatt holed out in the 10th over, by which time England only needed another 57 to win.
Precocious leg-spinner Amelia Kerr did make a double breakthrough as Beaumont was caught in the deep and Sarah Taylor bowled by an excellent googly from successive deliveries to leave England 102-3.
That prompted the belated introduction of Tahuhu, one of the quickest bowlers in women’s cricket, as New Zealand’s eighth bowler for the 14th over – and it immediately produced a strong lbw appeal and a half-chance of a catch down the leg side, but the writing was on the wall by then.
It fell to the calm Knight and the powerful Natalie Sciver to complete a deserved victory.
‘They’ve just been too good for us’ – what they said
England captain Heather Knight: “I’d like us to start better, we saw how well the Kiwis got out of the blocks but that over from Brunty was outstanding, and we were just clinical through the middle.”
New Zealand skipper Suzie Bates: “We thought we got off to a really good start, we knew we had to bat well but they just kept coming at us and putting pressure on with the ball and in the field. They’ve just been too good for us in all three games.”
Player of the match Katherine Brunt: “Our bowlers stuck to their plans and bowled well throughout. When Sophie and Suzie get going they can be pretty destructive, so it’s good when you can keep at least one of them quiet.”
Former England captain Charlotte Edwards on BBC Test Match Special: “England have a lot of depth and they know their roles – that’s what’s made the difference compared to the other two teams in this series.”
Ex-England batter Lydia Greenway on TMS: “England have been very workmanlike, it’s not always about playing fancy cricket – it’s about getting the job done and they’ve done that really well. For New Zealand, to use so many bowlers and not be really clear about why they’re making their bowling changes, is something they’ll need to address.”