Wyatt and Bouchier fire England to thumping win in first women’s T20

England smashed their highest Twenty20 score on home soil in six years at Southampton on Saturday – 197 for three – before restricting New Zealand to 138 to win by 59 runs.

With three months to go until the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh, this was a statement innings from an England side whose confidence is sky-high – admittedly against a team who are unlikely to be challengers in October, especially if they bat like they did at Southampton.

First, Georgia Plimmer was ­unnecessarily run out for the third time in four matches – this time thanks to a superb direct hit from Nat Sciver-Brunt on the ring. Then came the archetype of the horror collapse: five wickets lost for four runs in the space of 14 balls, including a three-wicket over for Sarah Glenn.

This was a big chase under ­pressure, but the decision-making of the Kiwi batters was nonetheless questionable: Suzie Bates played on trying a reverse sweep, Maddy Green came down the track and missed a straight one, while New Zealand’s best batters, Amelia Kerr and Sophie Devine, both sent up catches to long-on. At the end of it all, New Zealand were 64 for five and the rest was mere formality.

Earlier, the England openers, Danni Wyatt and Maia Bouchier, had ­pummelled the New Zealand bowlers in a 52-run, wicketless powerplay, setting the platform for England’s mammoth total by pouncing on wide offerings from Devine, Jess Kerr and Lea Tahuhu.

New Zealand’s young spinners Eden Carson (22) and Fran Jonas (20) then looked well out of their depth against the quality and class of Wyatt and Sciver-Brunt, while Freya Kemp – promoted up the order to bat at No 4 – maintained the ­pressure in the final few overs, lofting Kerr over the top for six in her usual effortless style.

England’s Sarah Glenn celebrates after taking the wicket of Maddy Green. Photograph: Nigel French/PA

New Zealand’s only inroads came when the England batters were trying to accelerate – Bouchier, Sciver-Brunt and Wyatt all caught in the deep attempting big shots – and though Tahuhu denied Wyatt a third T20 international hundred when she holed out on 76, the coach, Jon Lewis, will be well satisfied with the selfless approach of his big-hitters and their more-than-healthy strike rates.

Heather Knight had built ­expectations with her claim on the eve of the game that England would be “trying things out” with one eye on the World Cup, but even so it was something of a surprise to see four frontline spin options in their XI – Linsey Smith joining the usual trio of Sophie Ecclestone, Charlie Dean and Glenn. All four were utilised within the opening eight overs, with ­varying ­levels of spin and bounce that helped stymie the New Zealand response.

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It was the return of the all-rounder Kemp from injury, originally slated to bat at No 7 while simultaneously providing a seam option, which ­facilitated this luxury. Lewis has been keeping fingers and toes crossed that his young protege would be fit to bowl this summer, as much-needed ­preparation for that all-important stage in Bangladesh.

Kemp had made a five-over return for Southern Vipers against Western Storm at Hove last weekend – her first professional spell since the ­recurrence of a stress fracture in her back in January – and while she is clearly not yet back to pre-injury levels of pace, the fact that she was able to bowl her full allocation of four overs, picking up the scalp of Tahuhu into the bargain, was an important hurdle overcome, as well as one more puzzle-piece in place for England before the World Cup.

The Guardian

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