In an otherwise sorry batting display by England, Katherine Brunt scored a valiant 72 to give a score to contend with. © Getty
Katherine Brunt’s valiant unbeaten half-century in the first One-Day International against South Africa Women in Worcester took England to 189 – a score to contend with at least after having been reduced to 97 for 8 at one stage in the 35th over. Brunt added vital runs with the lower order to keep her side in the contest as she batted out the remainder of overs en route a 98-ball 72.
It came as little surprise when Heather Knight, the skipper, lavished praise on her pacer. “I think Katherine came out and played brilliantly, she kept that intent towards the end of her innings and she had a very good game. She has turned into a genuine all-rounder now and under pressure today she managed to pump out a score for us and keep us in the game,” Knight said of Brunt on Saturday (June 9), after England were handed a seven-wicket drubbing. “We have had a winter away; a drawn Ashes series and we took a slightly younger squad to India. But we are still developing and hopefully performances like Katherine’s today show players are still improving no matter what age they are. We haven’t had a great day today, but we have another chance to put a few things right on Tuesday.”
While the batters failed on the day with the next-best score after Brunt’s half-century being 19, her confidence transcended into the bowling as she kept proceedings tight and only conceded 31 in 10 overs with a wicket. “[Brunt] was also outstanding with the ball today, as was Anya [Shrubsole], and that opening [bowling] partnership really kept us in the game. Unfortunately, South Africa put a partnership together, but I can’t fault the way the girls fought today. They fought really hard, but it felt like one of those days today,” added Knight as England’s bowlers kept them in the game by containing runs, but the lack of wickets hurt them as South Africa scaled the target with over four overs to spare.
Shrubsole returned with 2 for 36 in her quota as England’s bowlers made South Africa work for their runs, unlike the South African bowlers, who gave away as many as 25 extras with 12 wides.
Knight had opted to bat, but wickets falling in clumps hurt England as South Africa’s pacers controlled the innings from the onset. Shabnim Ismail and Ayabonga Khaka shared three wickets each, while Chloe Tryon and Marizanne Kapp had one apiece. Yet, Knight didn’t think she made the wrong call. “I think it was a 50/50 call. I don’t think it moved outrageously for them, I think they bowled very well. I think bar Tammy [Beaumont’s] dismissal it was probably us with execution. A few soft dismissals and the Saffas bowled very well, they bowled straight, attacked the stumps, and when you are 64/6 it is hard to salvage the game.
“Yeah maybe [we went too hard early on]. A few soft dismissals, but I think South Africa bowled very well and made it tricky for us. Once we lost those early wickets it was always going to be hard for us to get back in the game,” she said.