Cricket: Smithies puts England on top of the world: Brittin and Hodges lay the foundations of a home triumph as New Zealand's women are comprehensively outplayed in World Cup final

England . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .195-5

New Zealand . . . . . . . . . . . . .128

England win by 67 runs

WELL, at least one English cricket team can be considered world beaters. Led astutely by Karen Smithies, the hosts outplayed their New Zealand opponents in every facet of the game here yesterday to secure the Women's World Cup for the second time.

Some time tomorrow, hangovers and hairs of the dog permitting, Smithies will return to the anonymity of her Coral betting shop, Jan Brittin to her desk at British Airways, Carole Hodges to her Midland Bank till. Jo Chamberlain will hop back into her delivery van, Suzy Kitson into her laboratory.

Irresistible forces and immovable objects sprang to mind in assessing yesterday's protagonists. England, on the one hand, could point to five individual centuries, four totals in excess of 200 and an overall run-rate of 3.38 in the round-robin section. New Zealand, on the other, had only twice conceded 100 or more, India's 112 being the loftiest.

More pertinently, however, Sarah Illingworth's side had constructed an unbeaten record by fielding first five times out of seven, leaving them with a highest score of 154 and Debbie Hockley with the solitary 50. The recipe had proved so satisfying that Illingworth chose the same ingredients upon winning the toss here, much to English relief.

Chasing New Zealand's modest 127 at Beckenham 11 days earlier, after all, Smithies and company were tethered to such an extent that five run-outs ensued as England pulled up 28 runs short. Freedom of stroke was altogether more apparent here, aided, it should be said, by Kiwi complicity. Wendy Watson was dropped twice before Sara McLauchlan bowled her in the ninth over. More serious were the fluffs that spared Hodges on 29 and, more grievously still, Chamberlain on seven.

Chamberlain capitalised with some audacious wellying, driving and pulling 38 off 33 balls as 71 flowed from the final 10 overs, every run acclaimed by resounding cheers from a packed Edrich Stand. Daniels, her partner in a fifth-wicket spree that produced 57 from 53 balls, also made a telling contribution with her zestful scampering between the wickets.

The basis for all this, though, was the usual solid bit of under- pinning from Hodges and Brittin, who extended their combined aggregate in this year's competition to 744 runs during a second-wicket alliance worth 85 in 30 overs, one of Brittin's trademark late cuts, fittingly enough, making her the first player in World Cup history to amass 1,000 runs.

Hodges succumbed to a dexterous piece of stumping by Illingworth, Brittin to Karen Gunn's fine leap at midwicket, yet the vaunted New Zealand ground fielding was generally as below par as their catching.

England were on another plane in both categories. After Penny Kinsella's top-edged pull off Clare Taylor had descended into Jan Smit's gloves, Hockley and Kirsty Bond progressed with ominous authority until Suzy Kitson intercepted the latter's full-blooded cut with a startling one-handed take in the gully. When Maia Lewis drove Smithies to midwicket, Chamberlain almost brought off another blinder, then recovered to throw out Hockley in the same over and so seal the player of the match award.

The meat of the batting gone, Smithies pinioned the middle order. The most successful bowler of the qualifying stages with 14 victims at 7.5 runs apiece, the England captain crowned a stint of 12 overs for 14 runs by clasping her opposite number's fierce return drive shortly after tea.

The rest was largely a procession, the end coming as Brittin chased fully 30 yards to catch Catherine Campbell, the impetus taking her straight into the arms of a gaggle of jubilant supporters.

John Major was among the 4,000-strong crowd, the best Sunday gate at HQ this season barring the fourth day of the second Test. Who says the great British public is unable to discern between Mickey Mouse cricket and the real McCoy?

(New Zealand won toss)

ENGLAND

J Brittin c Gunn b McLauchlan . . . . . . . 48 W Watson b McLauchlan . . . . . . . . . . . .5 C Hodges st Illingworth b Campbell . . . . .45 H Plimmer run out . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 J Chamberlain b Harris . . . . . . . . . . .38 B Daniels not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 * K Smithies not out . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Extras (b8 lb7 w2) . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 Total (for 5, 60 overs). . . . . . . . . . 195

Fall: 1-11 2-96 3-114 4-118 5-175

Did not bat: J Smit, C Taylor, G Smith, S Kitson.

Bowling: Turner 8-1-32-0; Harris 12-3-31-1; McLauchlan 10-2-25-2; Campbell 12-2-45-1; Gunn 12-5-33-0; Drumm 6-1-14-0.

NEW ZEALAND

P Kinsella c Smit b Taylor . . . . . . . . .15 D Hockley run out . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 K Bond c Kitson b Chamberlain . . . . . . . 12 M Lewis lbw b Taylor . . . . . . . . . . . .28 * S Illingworth c and b Smithies . . . . . . 4 E Drumm c Chamberlain b Smith . . . . . . . .0 K Gunn b Smith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19 S McLauchlan c Brittin b Kitson . . . . . . .0 J Turner c Taylor b Smith . . . . . . . . . .2 J Harris not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 C Campbell c Brittin b Kitson . . . . . . . .6 Extras (lb8 w5) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Total (55.1 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . .128

Fall: 1-25 2-51 3-60 4-70 5-71 6-110 7-112 8-114

9-120.

Bowling: Taylor 12-3-27-2; Hodges 5-2-11-0; Chamberlain 9-2-28-1; Smithies 12-4-14-1; Smith 12-1-29-3; Kitson 5.1-1-11-2.

Umpires: J West and V Williams.

More cricket, page 24

(Photograph omitted)

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