The two best teams in the tournament and in the world will contest the final of the Women’s World Twenty20 tomorrow. Other teams are narrowing the gap on England and Australia, but gap there remains. It is simply that it is no longer a gaping chasm.
This was no better demonstrated than by England’s clinical nine-wicket victory with 19 balls to spare against South Africa in the semi-final in Dhaka yesterday. Sarah Taylor finished with a excellently controlled 44no from 45 balls – she had no need to rush – and shared stands of 67 with the captain, Charlotte Edwards, and 35 unbroken with Heather Knight.
The player of the match for the third time in the tournament, however, was Anya Shrubsole, whose late, accurate in-swing was altogether too much for South Africa’s top order. Shrubsole, who is known as “The Hoof” by her team-mates because they reckon she walks like a horse, is a thoroughbred among female medium-pace bowlers.
Her third ball curved in at the last moment and uprooted Lizelle Lee’s leg stump. In her second over she repeated the dose for Trisha Chetty with movement that was still later and more extreme. With another yard of pace, Shrubsole would be a handful in decent grades of men’s cricket.
“I tried away swing when I was about 20 and that didn’t work, so I tried the other one and that did,” she said. “It’s been working for me for the last 12 or 18 months.”
If Shrubsole’s exemplary spell immediately put pressure on South Africa, the five run-outs made their difficulties insurmountable. They were caused by a combination of alert England throwing and poor judgement.
There was a candidate for the daftest run-out of all time when the slight Suné Luus and the powerhouse hitter Chloe Tryon went for a second run. They collided in midfield, Luus crumpled in a heap, England made a mess of the throw to the bowler’s end but had time to recover and return it to striker’s end. Luus was still in the process of regaining her feet.
If anything, England allowed their opponents to accrue too many, with 38 runs being added between the 14th and 18th overs as Tryon clubbed two sixes and generally enjoyed herself.
However, Edwards and Taylor were of a different class from anything that had come before, working the gaps, assessing the balls to hit. Australia, the defending champions, will be a different proposition.