Feasting once again on South Africa’s bowling attack, Tammy Beaumont steered England’s women to a series-winning victory on Friday, collecting the player of the match and series awards for her back-to-back centuries. Better still, it was all on her home ground at Canterbury.
She followed up her 101 from Tuesday with 105 here in the decider, bolstering her credentials as the world’s most consistent opener in the ODI format.
Beaumont and Heather Knight, who finished with a dashing unbeaten 80 herself, put on 154 for the third wicket at nearly a run a ball after coming together with the score on 51 and the match in balance. The experienced duo systematically shut the visitors out of the contest, their target of 229 surpassed with seven wickets and 36 balls to spare. The series victory was the first for Knight’s side since they won the World Cup nearly 11 months ago, bouncing back promptly from the thrashing they copped in the opener last weekend.
Beaumont’s fifth ODI ton, coming in 121 balls, was brought up with her 13th boundary, clipped immaculately through midwicket.
Three of the last four times the 27-year-old has facedthe Proteas she has reached three figures, this the second time since her career was reborn two years ago that she has done so in consecutive innings.
South Africa had their chances after scraping together a halfway credible total of 228, bowled out one ball shy of batting out their overs. In defence, they prevented the hosts from getting off to a quick start before picking up opener Amy Jones (24) then Tuesday’s matchwinner Sarah Taylor (5) in a hurry.
Three overs later, with the score on 59, seamer Masabata Klaas put down a tough return chance off Knight in her follow through when she was on one. They would not get another chance until Beaumont was trapped lbw with only 24 runs left to triumph.
England’s chase would have been more straightforward had they not put down four chances. The costliest was when Beaumont grassed an uncomplicated chance off Dane van Niekerk when she was 14 at short fine leg. The right-hander made the most of it, smashing 70 from the last 49 balls that she faced, falling just five runs short of a maiden ODI century.
But it was a piece of magical work in the field that made sure that Van Niekerk didn’t push the Proteas beyond 250. In the 47th over she was stumped down the leg side by Taylor off opening bowler Katherine Brunt, no less. It was the first of the spearhead’s three wickets in a frenetic burst where South Africa lost eight for 72 in the final stretch.
The best of the England bowlers was teeanage spinner Sophie Ecclestone who picked one for 25 across her 10 overs. She delivered with control and bite. Despite her lack of fluency, Laura Wolvaardt, who is also just 19 years old, became the youngest women to reach a dozen ODI half-centuries. But all that was forgotten by the time Beaumont got going. Underrated for now, perhaps, but surely not for much longer.