Too good for their own good? Women's cricket was denied the high-scoring thriller it wanted in front of a big crowd, but don't blame England for that. Having come through a nail-biting semi-final against Australia 48 hours earlier and on the other side of the Thames, Charlotte Edwards' team clobbered the Kiwis to become the first owners of the World Twenty20 trophy.
On the longest day of the year, the reigning 50-over champions could have made even shorter work of completing a wonderful double. But a margin of six wickets with 18 balls to spare did them nicely enough.
Back in March, in Sydney, England stuttered a bit before beating New Zealand by four wickets in the other World Cup final. But, guided by the outstanding Claire Taylor, there was never any chance of them suffering a nervous twitch yesterday when faced by a run-chase of just 86.
"It was a lot easier than I thought it would be," Edwards admitted. "New Zealand were playing very good cricket coming into this game but a lot of credit must go to our attack. It was our best bowling performance of the whole tournament."
The White Ferns just about hoisted the white flag by being dismissed for 85 in exactly 20 overs. Katherine Brunt captured three wickets for six runs during four new-ball overs, signing off with a double-wicket maiden, and was a shoo-in for the player of the match award. But was it all a bit too easy when the women's game could have done with another top-notch contest before the gents of Sri Lanka and Pakistan took centre stage?
"It's a difficult one because we want exciting games for TV, but we had that on Friday when we beat Australia in the semi-final," Edwards said. "This game was all about the result, we've won the World Cup and I'm extremely proud of the team."
In the space of just a few months, England have retained the Ashes and taken possession of both limited-overs trophies to set them apart from the rest. Their demolition of New Zealand perfectly underlined that point and drew probably the most telling comment of the day from Kiwi coach Gary Stead. "It felt a little bit like the amateurs playing the professionals," he said. And, in effect, that is what it was.
Eight members of the England side are employed by the England and Wales Cricket Board in an arrangement with the Chance to Shine project, which sees them paid for coaching in schools and clubs. Management consultant Taylor, the player of the tournament, is not one of that group – by choice – but she has no doubts as to how the deal benefits her team-mates. "It makes a huge difference," said Taylor after yesterday adding an unbeaten 39 to her 76 not out against the Aussies. "Trying to juggle a full-time job and trying to train to play for England to be the best you can be is really hard
"Instead, the girls are being given the chance to be professional cricketers for half the time and role models in schools and clubs for the other half."
The really bad news for the rest is that Edwards and Co plan to be around for quite some time. "We love winning trophies and we love playing cricket together," she said. "I don't think there are any retirements on the cards and we just want to continue being successful."
A series of 50-over internationals against Australia, followed by a one-off Test, is next on the agenda for England this summer. But before returning to duty they deserve to savour their victory here at Lord's – a success which was watched by perhaps 10,000 spectators and a sizeable television audience.
Two days earlier, Edwards' attack had wilted under a fierce onslaught from Australia. But the captain said her bowlers would put that right at here, and they did as off-spinner Laura Marsh and Brunt immediately preyed on New Zealand nerves already frayed from a sequence of six consecutive losses, in all forms of cricket, to the women in blue. Marsh's fifth ball drew Suzie Bates down the pitch, Sarah Taylor completed a neat stumping and the hosts never looked back.
"Everything we tried turned to custard," was how Kiwi captain Aimee Watkins described her team's plight. And she was right. Much depended on Watkins, who scored 89 in the semi-final victory over India, but Brunt – swinging the ball consistently – had her measure yesterday, defeating an ugly swipe across the line during the fourth over.
Brunt, a 23-year-old from Barnsley, gave up the game for a couple of years when she was a teenager because, by her own admission, she carried a bit too much weight. Then, having shed the necessary pounds, a back injury sidelined her again. All the pain, hard work and sacrifices looked well worth it yesterday, though, as Brunt and the whole England squad lapped up a well deserved standing ovation.
England's men have never won a World Cup whereas the woman have bagged two in three months. On the evidence of the past fortnight, one of the teams can be confident of more silverware in the near future.
Women's World Twenty20: final scoreboard
LORD'S (One day): England Women beat New Zealand Women by six wickets
England won toss
NEW ZEALAND WOMEN
S W Bates st S J Taylor b Marsh......... 1
L R Doolan c S J Taylor b Brunt......... 14
*A L Watkins b Brunt......... 2
A E Satterthwaite c S C Taylor b Shaw......... 19
†R H Priest c & b Brunt......... 0
N J Browne b Shaw......... 1
S J McGlashan c Greenway b Gunn......... 9
S J Tsukigawa c S J Taylor b Gunn......... 5
S F M Devine run out......... 10
K L Pulford c S C Taylor b Edwards......... 14
S E A Ruck not out......... 0
Extras (b1 lb4 w4 nb1)......... 10
Total (20 overs)......... 85
Fall: 1-2 2-10 3-23 4-23 5-31 6-48 7-57 8-62 9-84
Bowling: Marsh 4-0-16-1; Brunt 4-2-6-3; Shaw 4-0-17-2; Colvin 4-0-16-0; Gunn 3-0-19-2; Edwards 1-0-6-1.
†S J Taylor c Priest b Pulford......... 23
*C M Edwards b Ruck......... 9
S C Taylor not out......... 39
B L Morgan c McGlashan b Browne......... 6
L S Greenway b Devine......... 3
J L Gunn not out......... 2
Extras (lb1 w3)......... 4
Total (for 4, 17 overs)......... 86
Fall: 1-19 2-39 3-70 4-74
Did not bat: C M G Atkins, N J Shaw, K H Brunt, H L Colvin, L A Marsh.
Bowling: Devine 3-0-12-1; Ruck 4-0-17-1; Pulford 4-0-20-1; Bates 2-0-8-0; Browne 3-0-18-1; Doolan 1-0-10-0.
Umpires: Aleem Dar and R E Koertzen
Player of the tournament: S J Taylor