Raf Nicholson's match report
Just when it feels as if the presentations are over, there’s one more. The Vitality women’s IT20 player of the summer is ... Nat Sciver. “It feels like a long time ago that we were playing India,” she says with a wry smile. It sure does. But Adam Collins can remember it: “that innings at Northampton,” he prompts, “55 off 27 balls”. They say nobody remembers T20 cricket, but Adam proves them wrong.
The last word goes to Simon McMahon. “What a finish!” he exclaims. “I’m not saying cricket’s the greatest game in the world, but it’s in the top one.” Ha.
Thanks for your company and correspondence, and I’ll see you in about 12 hours’ time, when England’s men take on India in the fifth Test. Unlike the women, they can’t win the series.
The player of the match, chosen by the Sky commentators, is ... the other captain, Heather Knight. “Really enjoyable night,” she says. “Bit of rust there, to be honest. We weren’t perfect tonight, but Amy [Jones] was outstanding in the middle order and we’ve got different people contributing at different times. We’ll take confidence from it.” Asked about Danni Wyatt, Knight says “I thought she was brilliant tonight.”
The performance of the match, chosen by the OBO, was Leigh Kasparek’s three-for. No other bowler managed more than one wicket.
The player of the series, chosen by the “written press” (formerly known as “the press”), is Sophie Devine. “Yeah, look,” she says, “credit to England, they held their nerve. Everybody was in with a shout in the last over, which is what we want from a T20 game. And my girls – extremely proud of them.”
Well that was fun
It’s been a hard-fought series and it went to the wire – or the ball before the wire, anyway. Leigh Kasperek was immense for New Zealand, removing three of England’s top five with her off-breaks, but she didn’t have quite enough support. For England, Wyatt and Jones were aggressive, Dunkley was nerveless and Knight was measured, playing a captain’s innings in her 200th international.
England win with a ball to spare!!
Dunkley! You beauty! She comes down the track and wallops a full toss to midwicket, just beating the woman on the rope. So England win the match and the series, and Sophia Dunkley’s reputation continues to grow.
Four needed off two!
It’s two runs per ball now, and Sophia Dunkley thwacks two down the ground.
England need seven off four!
Katherine Brunt goes for a big hit and misses.
Wicket! Bouchier b Satterthwaite 1 (England 138-6)
Bowled her! Top of middle and leg as the ball angles in from round the wicket. Youth is great, but experience is even better.
England need seven off the last over to win the series
19th over: England 138-5 (Dunkley 16, Bouchier 1) In comes Maia Bouchier, thumping her first ball down the ground with the fearlessness of youth and keeping the strike. Seven needed off six balls as Sweet Caroline rings out, rather prematurely.
Wicket!! KNIGHT c Bates b Devine 42 (England 137-5)
The big one! Is this a twist? One captain removes another as Knight can’t clear mid-off. But she played very well, especially after Jones was out.
18th over: England 129-4 (Knight 37, Dunkley 14) It feels as if England are cruising, but Satterthwaite has other ideas, restricting them to three singles. That’s class. England need 16 off the last two overs.
17th over: England 126-4 (Knight 36, Dunkley 12) It’s the last throw of the dice from Devine, who summons Kasperek. She lures Knight to what should be her doom – a slog-sweep with a hint of top edge, but Newton, running in from deep square, misjudges it and it leapfrogs her! We’ve all been there.
Meanwhile, in a dramatic development, I have an email. “Hope you’re keeping well,” says Bill Hargreaves. “Thanks for the ever great commentary.” Bill, you’re a gent. “This England team and this series have been great to follow. One of these matches was live on the Beeb, which was refreshing, and this one is on Sky’s YouTube channel.” Don’t tell them! “PS What was in the half-time sandwich?” Cheese and tomato, with a bit of basil, as it’s The Guardian.
16th over: England 117-4 (Knight 30, Dunkley 9) Here’s Jensen, dishing up a slow yorker outside off and almost persuading Knight to chip to cover. Instead it’s two, and she gets two more next ball from a mere push to midwicket. Jensen bites back with a nick, as Knight cuts – but there’s no slip and that’s four. Knight has stepped up since Jones departed, making 11 off eight balls, and England have kept up with the rate of seven an over.
15th over: England 108-4 (Knight 22, Dunkley 8) Devine brings herself back and Sophia Dunkley, who’s been busy, gets away with a lofted chop to the left of backward point. England need 37 from the last five overs, so they’re still narrow favourites.
14th over: England 101-4 (Knight 20, Dunkley 3) A nurdle from Knight brings up the hundred, but Kerr’s over goes for only three and NZ are looking chipper again. England need 44 off 36 balls. The partnership between Knight and Jones was 55 off only 6.2 overs – an exemplary counter-attack after a mini-collapse.
13th over: England 98-4 (Knight 19, Dunkley 1) Devine turned to Kasperek, her sharpest weapon tonight, which drew some respect from the batters until Jones spied a long hop and tucked in. I was just typing “She has 32 off 17 balls and if NZ don’t get her soon” when I was rudely interrupted by the clink of timber. England need 47 off 42 balls. They should still get them, but only if Knight stays there and sees them through.
Wicket!! JONES b Kasperek 32 (England 97-4)
Just when Amy Jones was running away with the game, Kasperek comes back and takes her third wicket with a looping yorker. Game back on.
12th over: England 89-3 (Knight 17, Jones 28) England have to get after Satterthwaite, and they do. Jones reverse-swats for four, then dances down and drives for four more. Another reverse brings a single before Knight comes to the party, seeing a full toss and playing an orthodox sweep for four. That’s 16 off the over, and as Adam Collins points out, they’ve dragged the required run-rate down from 8 to 7. England are 15 ahead of NZ at the same stage, but then NZ did finish superbly.
11th over: England 73-3 (Knight 12, Jones 17) Satterthwaite’s economy seems to be contagious. Rowe, whose first over went for nine, goes for only five off this one. England are halfway there, but that six from Danni Wyatt is becoming a distant memory.
10th over: England 68-3 (Knight 9, Jones 15) New Zealand need dots and they get five of them from Amy Satterthwaite with her off-breaks. She keeps Knight quiet and the only scoring shot is a top edge for two, over the keeper’s shoulder. At the halfway stage, England need another 77, and the see-saw is perfectly horizontal.
9th over: England 66-3 (Knight 7, Jones 15) Here’s Hannah Rowe, so it’s medium pace at both ends. Jones flicks her over square leg, straight to the woman in the deep – who misfields, turning a single into a four. Jones has 15 off only nine balls. She’s doing what her fellow keeper Katey Martin did, only earlier in the innings. NZ try a review, as Knight misses one down leg, but Rowe wasn’t interested and the umpire, Sue Ryan, was right not to raise the finger. This partnership is looking ominous or promising, depending on your point of view: it’s already 24 off 15 balls.
8th over: England 57-3 (Knight 6, Jones 8) On comes Hayley Jensen with her medium pace, still glowing from taking the first of those two catches. Jones upper-cuts her for four to ease the pressure. Jensen, unfazed, beats Knight outside off. Knight, also unfazed, cuts for four. That’s a much better over for England, who now need 88 from 12 overs at 7.33.
7th over: England 45-3 (Knight 1, Jones 2) Danni Wyatt made 35 off 23, and nobody else has done anything: the second-highest score is Beaumont’s 3. Heather Knight, only just back from injury, is joined by Amy Jones, who should at least have her eye in from attempting stumpings off bouncers.
Wicket!! WYATT c Newton b Kasperek 35 (England 43-3)
Oh Danni. This time it’s a bad ball – a long hop, pulled to deep square for another easy catch, and suddenly New Zealand are on top.
Wicket! Sciver c Jensen b Kasperek 2 (England 42-2)
A lofted on-drive, a simple catch at deep midwicket.
6th over: England 40-1 (Wyatt 34, Sciver 2) Devine trusts Kerr to bowl a third over and surely regrets it as Wyatt goes 4, 4, 4 – a whip to midwicket, an inside-out cover drive, and a dab to third man. Kerr recovers with a couple of dots to Sciver, but the powerplay ends with England just ahead on points – thanks to one woman.
5th over: England 27-1 (Wyatt 21, Sciver 2) A better over from Devine, bustling in, finding a little away-swing, mixing up the field and beating Wyatt outside off. Only two runs off the over, and even with Wyatt hitting the ball well, England are slipping behind the rate. They need 118 off 90 balls.
4th over: England 25-1 (Wyatt 20, Sciver 1) Kerr deceives Wyatt too, but gets no reward as a thick inside edge dribbles away for four. Wyatt reasserts herself as Kerr drops short, swivelling to pull and landing the ball just inside the Toblerone. She has 20 off only 12 balls, and England need 120 off 16 overs.
Wicket! Beaumont c Devine b Kerr 3 (England 16-1)
Tammy Beaumont thinks she’ll have a bit of that too – and clomps a catch to midwicket! It was a strange shot, looping like a slower ball. Beaumont faced 11 deliveries and just didn’t get going.
3rd over: England 16-0 (Wyatt 12, Beaumont 3) Kasperek is off as Devine brings herself on. England are desperately seeking boundaries and Danni Wyatt finds one with a pull. And then she gives Devine the charge and hits a six – the first of the evening, creamed over long-off. Game on!
2nd over: England 5-0 (Wyatt 2, Beaumont 2) From the other end it’s Jess Kerr with her nagging inswing, and still England can’t free their arms. They need 140 off 108 balls.
And there was a dropped catch in that over! Unnoticed at the time – an under-edge from Tammy Beaumont, which Katey Martin couldn’t hang onto.
1st over: England 2-0 (Wyatt 1, Beaumont 1) It’s going to be Leigh Kasperek, bowling the first off-breaks of the evening. She does well, cramping the openers for room and restricting them to a single each, driven down the ground. England need another 143 off 19 overs.
NZ finish on 144-4
20th over: New Zealand 144-4 (Halliday 25, Martin 13) It’s Brunt to bowl the last over, and the scintillating Jones, still standing up, almost gets a stumping off a bouncer. It’s called a wide, not that that would have stopped her. Martin finds that square squirt of hers again, beating the cover sweeper. Brunt, not liking that at all, switches her line to leg stump. The last ball is clubbed for two past extra-cover by Halliday, running hard and beating the throw from Danni Wyatt. Thanks to a sparkling fifth-wicket partnership of 36 off 15 balls, NZ have grabbed respectability from the jaws of disappointment. Time for a sandwich.
19th over: New Zealand 132-4 (Halliday 20, Martin 9) It’s Ecclestone to bowl her last over. Fired up by Martin, Halliday gives her the charge first ball and cover-drives for four. then, for the first time, Martin fails to pierce the ring, but she picks up a single as the throw is sharp but wayward. And then Halliday goes dancing again and gets another four, squirted over point. And another! Halliday is transformed, and so are Ecclestone’s figures (one for 30 from four overs). This partnership is 24 off eight balls.
18th over: New Zealand 116-4 (Halliday 5, Martin 8) NZ need fours, fast, and Katie Martin knows it. She makes room to square-drive her first ball past cover point, then spots the slower ball and cuts it for four more. Eight off two! That’s more like it.
Wicket! Green c Jones b Sciver 16 (NZ 108-4)
A nick to the keeper: you’ve seen it a thousand times – but not like this, as the ball is a bouncer, dug in at full tilt by Sciver, and Jones is standing up. What a great catch. And it’s her 50th in T20 internationals.
17th over: New Zealand 105-3 (Green 15, Halliday 3) Still no six, but we do get a classy four as Maddy Green drives Farrant over extra-cover. And instantly there’s another one, flicked to fine leg. That’s 11 off the over and Green has some momentum with 15 off 12.
16th over: New Zealand 94-3 (Green 6, Halliday 1) Things are going so well for England that Knight awards Glenn a two-over spell. She too goes for four off the over, to finish with one for 20. Between them she and Ecclestone have gone for only 34 off seven overs – and just one boundary each. Come on you Kiwis, give us a six.
15th over: New Zealand 90-3 (Green 3, Halliday 0) So that’s another good over of spin – a wicket and four runs this time. It was Ecclestone’s arm ball, which nearly defeated Bates early on, and eventually burst through Devine’s gate.
Wicket! DEVINE b Ecclestone 35 (NZ 90-3)
The big one! Devine gets in a tangle trying to work Ecclestone away to leg, and she’s gone for 35 off 33. England are now officially on top.
14th over: New Zealand 86-2 (Devine 33, Green 1) Well bowled Sarah Glenn, whose over goes for only three runs as well as bringing the wicket. Satterthwaite never got going, using up 21 balls for her 13. So the rate dips back to six an over, and now it’s all about Devine, who has still faced only 30 balls.
Wicket! Satterthwaite c Brunt b Glenn 13 (NZ 84-2)
Knight’s umpteenth bowling change bears fruit as Satterthwaite holes out to long-on, where Brunt takes a sharp catch.
13th over: New Zealand 83-1 (Devine 31, Satterthwaite 13) Farrant is off again and Sciver is back. The singles are flowing but the only boundary come sin the form of byes, as an expert slower ball beats Satterthwaite – outside leg stump, as she backs away – and befuddles Amy Jones, who stays rooted on off stump. Nine off the over.
12th over: New Zealand 74-1 (Devine 28, Satterthwaite 11) Here’s Brunt again, and for once she’s bearing gifts – a loopy slower ball, reaching Devine on the full and asking to be smacked for four. A better slower ball beats Satterthwaite, and Jones too, and something about Brunt’s face suggests there might have been a nick.
11th over: New Zealand 67-1 (Devine 212, Satterthwaite 10) After a few minutes, the lights deign to come back on. Six off Farrant’s over, which is what NZ have been chugging along at for some time. I predict an acceleration.
Not quite the end of the 11th over: New Zealand 66-1 (Devine 21, Satterthwaite 10) Back comes Tash Farrant for her third over, and her third spell. The batters work her around for five balls, and then THE LIGHTS GO OUT. It’s like 1973 all over again.
10th over: New Zealand 61-1 (Devine 20, Satterthwaite 6) New Zealand need a big over and their captain provides it. She sweeps Glenn for four, making a sound like a rifle in a war film, and then gets lucky with a Harrow drive for two. She still hasn’t had much of the strike, though: only 18 balls so far, and we’ve had half the innings.
9th over: New Zealand 51-1 (Devine 12, Satterthwaite 4) Sciver returns, with her medium-pace allsorts, and this is a much better over from her – four dots and two singles. England have comprehensively won the last 14 balls.
8th over: New Zealand 49-1 (Devine 11, Satterthwaite 3) After seven overs, it’s time for Knight to produce her fifth bowler. On comes Sarah Glenn with her leg-breaks. She’s bang on her length and line and concedes just three singles. A camera by the Toblerone shows us a gorgeous pale-blue September sky. There’s some rain around, but so far it’s had the decency to keep its distance.
7th over: New Zealand 46-1 (Devine 10, Satterthwaite 1) Farrant goes back over the wicket for the left-handed Amy Satterthwaite, who eases her first ball into the covers for a single. The wicket ball was delivered, by the way, at full pace – Bates, who had been finding those legside hits so easy, played right across it.
Wicket! Bates b Farrant 34 (NZ 45-1)
Farrant gets hammered for four by Bates – so she goes round the wicket and bowls her! Great riposte.
6th over: New Zealand 37-0 (Bates 27, Devine 9) The one thing Bates hasn’t done well is sharing the strike – in the first five overs, Sophie Devine faced only six balls. Facing Ecclestone, Devinenow gets four balls in a row, and takes a two and a single. And the powerplay ends with NZ on top but not running riot as they threatened to, thanks to the accuracy of Brunt and Ecclestone.
5th over: New Zealand 33-0 (Bates 26, Devine 6) Fuming at losing her record, Knight makes yet another bowling change. As Sciver replaced Brunt, so Brunt now replaces Sciver. She tries a bouncer, but Bates hooks it for four.
4th over: New Zealand 28-0 (Bates 22, Devine 5) Another bowling change as Farrant gives way to the slower left-arm of Sophie Ecclestone. The first ball is a long hop and Bates has no mercy, pulling it so hard that the woman at mid-on can’t move five yeards to her right before it’s flashed past her. Ecclestone then shows her class, cramping Bates for room, reeling off the dots and very nearly bowling her off the inside edge with the arm ball. But Bates gets two for that and she has now beaten the record for most runs at one venue in women’s T20 – nicking it from Heather Knight, who is unstoppable at Canberra.
3rd over: New Zealand 22-0 (Bates 16, Devine 5) Heather Knight makes a bowling change at the earliest opportunity, replacing Brunt with Nat Sciver – Amy Jones standing up again. Devine gets off the mark with a whip for four past fine leg. Then she misses the same shot and the one with the whip is Jones, whipping off the bails. There’s a review, but it’s just a formality. Bates on-drives for four, powerfully, and that’s 11 off the over.
2nd over: New Zealand 11-0 (Bates 11, Devine 0) At the other end it’s Tash Farrant, with her left-arm medium, and Amy Jones standing up. Bates hits the first four of the evening with an off-drive, and then she’s dropped by Farrant herself – she did well to get down to a low chance but couldn’t hold on it. To rub it in, Bates lofts her for another four.
1st over: New Zealand 3-0 (Bates 3, Devine 0) It’s Brunt to Bates, and both are switched on. The first two balls are on off stump and Bates middles them, on the front foot and then the back, without piercing the ring. She gets it right off the fourth ball, forcing for three, but Brunt starts with two dots against Devine too, to complete a typically stingy first over. On commentary,. Adam Collins reminds us that last time these two teams played at Taunton on the same day, they both broke records (in different games).
Teams: England drop their best player!
Nooooo! Mady Villiers has been left out, presumably for failing to take four catches and two run-outs on Saturday. The good news is that Katherine Brunt returns, to add depth to the batting as well as fury to the bowling. The New Zealanders aren’t messing around: they retain all of their winning team.
England 1 Tammy Beaumont, 2 Danni Wyatt, 3 Heather Knight (capt), 4 Nat Sciver, 5 Amy Jones (wkt), 6 Sophia Dunkley, 7 Katherine Brunt, 8 Maia Bouchier, 9 Sophie Ecclestone, 10 Sarah Glenn, 11 Tash Farrant.
New Zealand 1 Suzie Bates, 2 Sophie Devine (capt), 3 Amy Satterthwaite, 4 Maddy Green, 5 Brooke Halliday, 6 Katey Martin (wkt), 7 Hayley Jensen, 8 Thamsyn Newton, 9 Hannah Rowe, 10 Jess Kerr, 11 Leigh Kasperek.
Toss: England win and bowl first
Heather Knight is back, back, back. Not only has she won the toss and opted to have a bowl – she’s also been presented with a special cap to mark her 200th England appearance. The speech was made by Lydia Greenaway, who, according to her Sky colleague Charlie Dagnall, had her notes written on her hand.
Preamble: the joy of one-all
Evening everyone and welcome to the third and final T20 between England and New Zealand. Douglas Adams said the answer to life, the universe and everything was 42. If he’d been a sportswriter, he might have been tempted to scrap that and say the answer was 1-1. All the best cricket series, like all the best football matches, go by way of 1-1: the team that’s gone behind comes bouncing back. That’s what New Zealand did at Hove on Saturday, propelled by Sophie Devine, who showed that in T20 you can play a captain’s innings and endanger the windows at the same time. She starred with the bat, the ball and her comments afterwards, in which she said that “we need to normalise the conversation around [athletes and] mental health”.
The other star of that game was Mady Villiers, with her phenomenal fielding. Can she please give the England men’s team some tips? At Hove she took three catches and a run-out and yet ended up empty-handed. Tonight, at Taunton, she has the chance to get her hands on a trophy – and so does everyone else, thanks to the magic of 1-1.
Play begins at 6.30pm local time, so I’ll be back around 6.05 with the toss and the teams.