England women fall short in Twenty20 final

 

England fell just four runs short in a tight finish to a tough run chase as Australia retained the women's ICC World Twenty20 trophy.

Number three Jess Cameron top-scored with 45 to help Australia pile up 142 for four after being put in at the Premadasa Stadium.

England's batsmen never quite managed the necessary impetus to get over the line, but would not give up and came mighty close in the end to regaining the title they won at Lord's in 2009.

Key batsmen Charlotte Edwards and Sarah Taylor got started, but could not sustain their innings, as Australia shared the wickets between spin and seam, yet the inaugural winners of this competition batted deep to finish on 138 for nine.

There was enough pace in the pitch to make the seamers vulnerable, if slightly off target, and Australia openers Alyssa Healy and Meg Lanning cashed in against Katherine Brunt.

They were therefore off to a flying start, racking up 47 without loss in powerplay as both Healy and Lanning found boundaries easy to come by, especially in Brunt's second over, which cost 16.

Holly Colvin gave England a much-needed breakthrough, in her first over, when Lanning chipped a caught-and-bowled back to the slow left-armer to end an opening stand of 51.

At 10 overs, the score was 68 for one, but immediately afterwards, Healy was bowled trying to pull Danni Hazell.

Cameron then dominated a second half-century stand with Lisa Sthalekar, and had just taken 17, including a six over midwicket, from one Anya Shrubsole over when Colvin again broke the partnership.

Cameron was caught at long-on. But Sthalekar and Alex Blackwell lost no significant momentum in the closing overs, as Edwards sensibly opted not to bring back the pace of either Brunt or Shrubsole.

It seemed Australia might have a winning total, albeit on a good batting surface - and so it proved, just.

Laura Marsh went caught-and-bowled to Julie Hunter in the fifth over of England's reply, and when Edwards was held at deep midwicket off Sthalekar for 28 another 99 runs were still needed.

Edwards' dismissal sparked some telling Australia celebrations, but they were shouting even louder when strike bowler Elysse Perry returned to have Taylor (19) caught-behind aiming an inside-out drive in the 10th over.

From there, England's prospects were far from obvious.

A series of admirably busy stands followed, however, with some fine late hitting from Jenny Gunn, who made 19, and Australia had to hold their nerve to deny England's late flourish as slow left-armer Jess Jonassen (three for 25) took the honours with the ball.

Edwards admitted afterwards that Australia were deserved winners, in a match when nerves perhaps did play their part with her team.

"Australia were better than us today," she said.

"We were under par with the ball, and paid for it. The first six (overs) of their innings was probably the difference between the two teams.

"Our lack of discipline up front has really cost us.

"They didn't seem nervous in the dressing room. But there probably were nerves there."

Edwards' own dismissal was a key moment, but being caught in the deep is an occupational hazard of her attacking brief.

"My role at the top of the order is just to keep hitting boundaries.

"I'm there to do that, and not too much running around.

"It's worked for the last 18 months. But part and parcel of that is sometimes getting out."

Player of the tournament Edwards is consoled, to a degree, by the fact England and Australia put on a fine example of women's cricket at its best.

"We're obviously bitterly disappointed we're not lifting the trophy, but it was a great spectacle for the women's game," she said.

"I'm very proud of that."

Australia captain Jodie Fields inevitably wore the broader smile.

She said: "England played a really good match, but we had the belief in our team.

"It was just an all-round performance; we always had the belief.

"Just to be standing here is awesome. All the hard work has been worth it."

PA

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