Photo Credit: ICC
Four games without a wicket is a long time for any bowler – but it must have felt like an age for England’s most prolific one-day wicket taker of all-time.
Katherine Brunt had produced figures of one for 54 in the defeat to Australia in England’s opening game of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022, and was unable to grab another wicket in the four clashes leading up to England’s game against Pakistan.
But Heather Knight kept the faith in one of her most trustworthy seaming servants and on Thursday in Christchurch, she unequivocally delivered.
Brunt’s intent for the day manifested itself from the very first ball of the match as she dismissed opener Nahida Khan for a golden duck, the 36-year-old extracting the outside edge as Knight safely pouched the ball at first slip.
There was still room for a wide in the first over, the feature of Brunt’s earlier innings where she sent down 13 wide deliveries, with some going for five runs as the fiery fast bowler failed to keep a lid on her frustration.
Her third over was a maiden as she showed she was truly back to her economical ways – and so too were England.
Fielding errors had plagued the defending champions in their first few games of the competition, but the next two dismissals came via run-outs as Bismah Maroof and Omaima Sohail departed thanks to ruthless work around the stumps.
Brunt went on to take the next wicket as all-rounder Nida Dar was sent back to the hutch for four, an LBW dismissal upheld on review.
Pakistan were in all kinds of trouble at 53 for four and it only got worse for Bismah’s side as Brunt dismissed set batter Sidra Ameen for 32 in her very next over.
Sidra chopped onto her stumps as the right-arm seamer wheeled away in celebration, relief etched across her face.
Brunt’s work was done as she finished with figures of three for 17 from her eight overs – including two maidens – as Pakistan could muster 105 in 41.3 overs, Sophie Ecclestone getting the final wicket of Diana Baig.
With her form regained, Brunt wasn’t prepared to give away any secrets on how she had done it, because, as the England selectors have shown, you just have to believe she will deliver.
She said: “I’ve been struggling for a bit of form, which is obviously not anything that anyone can’t work out by now.
“We’ve been on tour for a long time, getting on to 11 weeks away from home, a long, long way from home and this is something I don’t think any female cricketer certainly will ever have done, and probably won’t do in their career if they play for a long time.
“So you are figuring out how best to work things.
“Normally after a tour, you go home, you go back to the nets, you fix things. You have that bit of time before you go back on tour and we haven’t had that.
“Whereas I had a good Ashes, had that little lull time, and then came back into it and got into bad habits and although I won’t point out specifically what that technical thing was, I had spotted it.
“I’ve worked really hard on it yesterday in the nets, I took it right down to the bare bones of it and drilled a lot yesterday to try and be able to turn up today and make it as natural as possible, so I’m certainly going in the right direction.”
For now, the direction Brunt is heading in is firmly towards Wellington, where England take on Bangladesh on Sunday in their final group game hoping Brunt can add to her haul of 167 ODI wickets and propel her side into another semi-final.