Another day produced another record. in fact a slew of them. England demolished South Africa by 121 runs to begin their T20 tri-series campaign in rampaging style. But that margin, the biggest ever, warrants only a passing mention, such was the mismatch at Taunton with Heather Knight’s side posting a world record 250 for three, led by Tammy Beaumont’s third international century in nine days.
From the earliest exchanges on a rock-hard surface this was all about the records, which included the opener claiming the fastest T20 ton for an England woman, lowering the mark from 52 to 47 balls. She and Danielle Wyatt (56) combined for 147 at the top, equalling England’s highest partnership in the format.
Three hours earlier, in the first game of the double-header, South Africa had already coughed up the record once, New Zealand piling on 216 for one with Suzie Bates unbeaten on 124. “We saw the Kiwi girls,” Beaumont said. “Mark Robinson told us not to try and break the record.”
So much for that. They overtook New Zealand’s mark with 14 balls to spare. By the time they were done, there had never been a higher score made in a professional women’s T20. Five of the six highest totals in T20 international women’s cricket have now been posted in 2018. The game is changing fast.
Scores like this prompt images of a slogathon, yet this was far from that. England’s openers hit 21 fours before they cleared the rope from the final ball of the 10th over. Muscle played a role as the innings wore on but it was set up by the brains of Beaumont and Wyatt, dancing and pulling and driving their opponents into submission.
Beaumont broke Wyatt’s fastest hundred record, her innings a masterclass of footwork, striking 18 fours and four sixes in a stay of 52 balls. For Wyatt’s part, her half-century came in 31 balls. By the halfway mark they were already 116 without loss with the sense growing that the record was going to be extended again.
Katherine Brunt and Nat Sciver came together with the score at 185 and carted 25 from the 18th over to push it beyond 200. The former ended unbeaten on 42 from 16 balls, the latter out for 33 from 15 lusty swings.
Chasing that many, the visitors were never in the same postcode. In sharp contrast to what went before, Anya Shrubsole bowled two maidens and finished with figures of 4-2-8-0. For South Africa, their captain Dane van Niekerk batted wonderfully for 72, her second half-century of the afternoon, but there was nothing she could do alone. In the long journey to the World T20 tournament coming this November, England are out of the blocks in the best fashion possible.