Sunday 22 March 2009 

England Enjoy The View From The Top Of The World


John Pennington

I sincerely hope everyone has got their breath back after events in Sydney on Saturday night, where the Women's World Cup got the final it deserved.

It was an enthralling game which had a little bit of everything - who said 50 over cricket was boring? In the end though, England put their fans and support staff through the rack before eventually getting over the line, Holly Colvin clipping the winning run through midwicket. Her name now sits alongside the English list that includes Sir Geoff Hurst, Janette Brittin, Suzanne Kitson, and Jonny Wilkinson as members of an elite club - those to have secured the play that won their country a World Cup.

Although to focus too much on the actions of the player who scored the winning run would be to miss the point, and perhaps one of the reasons why England won the Cup in the first place. There is no 'I' in team and the unity in England's camp since well before they even set off for Australia and the way in which they have all pulled together as a group has played a significant role in their success.

This is a team that is blessed with match-winners throughout the squad and cometh the hour, cometh another woman; a Lydia Greenway , or a Beth Morgan , for example.

We must also realise how well they have prepared and a look at the leading run scorers and wicket-takers at the World Cup bear testimony to the way they hit their peak at the right time. The top three in the order - Sarah Taylor, Caroline Atkins and Claire Taylor - were among the top ten run scorers at the tournament proving that big runs early win matches, while off-spinner Laura Marsh was the leading wicket-taker with Charlotte Edwards and Colvin in equal seventh place. That's another interesting point - for England at the moment, spin is king.

It wasn't particularly hard to see why because on the relatively slow pitches they played on in Australia, taking the pace off the ball invited the batters to do all the hard work and they simply weren't able to do so. The ability  of Marsh, Colvin and Edwards to keep to a tight line and not offer any boundary balls had the inevitable results - no runs and wickets.

However, it worked for other sides too - Lucy Doolan bowled New Zealand back into the game and had she had a Laura Marsh backing her up rather than the slightly more erratic Aimee Mason, who knows, the result might just have been reversed.

England's tactic of playing with two spinners (and how useful that will be in the next World Cup in India) meant they had to leave a seamer out and but for an injury to Jenny Gunn, player of the match Nicola Shaw wouldn't even have been playing. For her to take four wickets and then shepherd England home having been informed she was in the team just minutes before play was due to begin is a truly remarkable story

She bowled beautifully, and snaring Suzie Bates, Sara McGlashan and Haidee Tiffen, three of New Zealand's best batters went a long way to ensuring England were chasing a modest total of 167, although when Shaw made her way to the crease, the target hardly looked modest any more.

A couple of crunching cut strokes on the off side settled the nerves and Colvin did the rest, showing such composure - so composed was she that I was under the impression that Shaw had hit the winning runs. Either way, the match was won and the players, along with their emotions, spilled out on to the field of play.

The tears of relief that first greeted the moment of victory eventually gave way to unconfined joy and jubilation by the time the trophy was presented to Edwards and having got the taste of victory already this year, England will be after the Twenty20 World Cup on home soil in June.

Given that they boast an unblemished Twenty20 in the last 12 months and have won the last two Ashes series, having just climbed their sport's Mount Everest, for the third time, lest we forget, don't expect them to want to come down any time soon.

© Cricket World 2009

Cricket World® Editor John Pennington, the 'voice' of Cricket World Radio, writes a weekly column on Mondays for www.cricketworld.com.