Thursday, October 6, 2022

ICC: England’s unassuming World Cup hero does it again

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England left it late to win another ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup game and once again Anya Shrubsole finished with her arms aloft having seen them home.

After producing record figures of six for 46 in a World Cup final to bowl India out and win England the trophy in 2017, this time Shrubsole held her nerve with the bat. 

After a smart bowling performance, led by Shrubsole’s fellow seamer Kate Cross, England were chasing just 204 on a good batting wicket, but just like their previous game against India, they did it the hard way. 

Once Sophia Dunkley departed for 33 to leave England on 176 for five, a collapse ensued with well-set Nat Sciver bowled by Jess Kerr for 61.

Such was England’s lower order struggles that Shrubsole’s vital unbeaten seven was the highest score they produced. 

Sophie Ecclestone was bowled by Frankie Mackay for a duck, the spinner taking career-best figures of four for 34.

Then Katherine Brunt was left stranded and face down on the wet Eden Park pitch after a desperate dive failed to prevent her being run out by a combination of Maddy Green and wicketkeeper Katey Martin. 

Cross would go for two to leave youngster Charlie Dean and the wily Shrubsole to chase down eight runs with 28 balls remaining. 

Shrubsole had time, but did she have the nerve? 

Of course, she did. 

The right-hander settled herself taking four balls to get off the mark when facing Hannah Rowe before pushing a delivery for a single to keep herself on strike. 

Then she was up against Mackay, who was hunting a five-fer to seal a famous World Cup-saving victory for the hosts. 

A pattern was emerging as three dots were followed by a run, but this time it meant Dean would have to face two balls with England still needing five. 

Dean safely negated those to leave Shrubsole on strike for the next over which was bowled by Brooke Halliday who had come into the attack for the injured Lea Tahuhu.

There would be no more dots in the innings as Halliday’s first delivery was sent to the boundary for four with a delightful stroke by Shrubsole, easing the visible tension in the England dugout. 

They couldn’t lose, but there was still a chance of a super over – it was England v New Zealand after all. 

Shrubsole had other ideas, finding the gap in the field to take the one run England needed, her roar of relief a stark contrast to the desolation of the New Zealand players. 

England’s No.11 had done it and despite her celebration at the end, she will be keeping quiet about her part in the win. 

Cross said: “I’m pretty sure she won’t want any attention for what she’s done today, but to be able to go out there and finish that game off, it was just so important to us as a team. 

“Obviously it keeps our hopes alive in this tournament and I think when we look back they’re going to be the really tiny moments [that matter]. 

“We found a way to win today and it felt like at the start of the tournament we were finding ways to lose, so the fact that we’ve managed to get the win today is very, very important and kudos to Anya for going out there and completing it for us.” 

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