Monday, October 3, 2022

ICC: Wyatt sets up tantalising England v Australia final

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England matched Australia pound for pound as they dominated South Africa to win their ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 semi-final by 137 runs.

Australia had defeated the West Indies by 157 runs the day before and the two sides in red hot form will now meet in Sunday’s showpiece. 

Remarkably, this will be the first time the teams have met in the World Cup final since 1988, a fact that becomes even more astonishing when you consider that between them, the teams have won 10 of the 11 previous World Cups.

Danni Wyatt led from the front as the opener made 129 runs to help England post a mammoth total of 293 for eight, Alyssa Healy had done the same yesterday making the same score as Australia set the West Indies 306 to win. 

The similarities keep coming with both players making their maiden centuries in World Cups and both have done it since being promoted from seventh in the batting order to opener, although Wyatt’s move came much later than Healy’s. 

For Australia, Healy’s promotion came as they rebuilt from being knocked out of the 2017 World Cup semi-final by India. 

For England, no rebuild was necessary back then as they claimed the trophy on home soil, but with Lauren Winfield-Hill misfiring and England’s defence on the rocks after two losses in the tournament, up came Wyatt. 

After the semi-final, the right-hander was quick to play down any re-emergence of the famous Ashes rivalry, insisting that the focus has always been on England. 

She said: “I didn’t really think about them. I just went out there and obviously wanted to get the win today and make the most of what was a really nice wicket and the bowlers bowled exceptionally to keep them to that total on that wicket.” 

One bowler in particular stood out, as she has been doing all tournament, left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone taking six for 36 – her first international five-fer and the best figures for England in a World Cup. 

Ecclestone moves to 20 wickets for the tournament, six clear of Shabnim Ismail who will not be able to add to her tally after South Africa were knocked out. 

The 22-year-old will now come up against youngster Darcie Brown, who at just 19 is frighteningly good, as Australia captain Meg Lanning admitted the other day. 

The fast bowler gave Lanning both barrels in the nets, with the experienced batter taking the positives of Brown’s potency for the team even as she came away with a couple of bruises. 

Wyatt had similar feelings on Ecclestone, revealing that the spinner was not fun to face in practice, but there were plenty of smiling faces on the pitch as Ecclestone and England took a stranglehold of the semi-final. 

While Australia have reached the final without a defeat to their name, England have done it the hard way losing the first three games, including a final-over thriller to Australia, to be in a knockout mindset with over half the group stage still to play. 

As the winning ways came back so did the smiles, but England, and Australia, know there will only be one team smiling come Sunday. 

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