MATCH REPORT: England v South Africa
It was a runs-fest today at Bristol if ever there was one. Between them the two sides racked up an aggregate of 678, making it the highest scoring women’s ODI in history, but it was ultimately England who ran out the winners by 68 runs.
For South Africa, bowling first at the request of Heather Knight, memories of knocking over West Indies for 48 faded quickly, as Tammy Beaumont fearlessly took on the pace quartet of Shabnim Ismail, Marizanne Kapp, Ayabonga Khaka and Moseline Daniels. Ismail ultimately finished with figures of 1-89 across her 10 overs - the most runs ever conceded by a bowler in a Women’s World Cup match.
Beaumont may have denied being out of form - “I don’t believe in form”, she said at the post-match press conference - but after scores of 14, 14 and 12 so far in this World Cup, it was her moment to shine, and shine she did. Her 148 was without doubt her best innings in an England shirt, made as it was against one of the best attacks in world cricket.
Meanwhile, once Lauren Winfield had fallen to Daniels in the 12th over, Sarah Taylor did what she had been unable to do against Sri Lanka and pushed on to her first international century since November 2013, eventually reaching 147. This was the Taylor of old - imperious on the leg side, coupled with impish reverse ramps. The smile on her face as she raised her bat said everything.
While neither Taylor nor Beaumont could survive the 50 overs - departing in the 47th and 48th overs respectively - that simply paved the way for a Heather Knight cameo of 22 off 10 balls.
In reply, South Africa reached 128 without losing a wicket, with both Lizelle Lee (72) and Laura Wolvaardt (67) determined to steal a march on the England bowlers.
But while South Africa’s tally of sixes (7) far surpassed England’s (1), and Chloe Tryon’s 25-ball half-century was the fastest of this World Cup so far, their opponents were never quite far up enough with the rate for England to feel seriously under threat.
Ultimately a clatter of wickets towards the end of the innings - Anya Shrubsole chiming in with her first scalp of the tournament - meant South Africa finished well short of their target, on 305-9.
“People are allowed to play good shots,” said Katherine Brunt - frank as ever - after the match had concluded. “They were still 70 runs short, and I still think we did well with the ball.”
Dane van Niekerk, in turn, acknowledged that she had been too slow to switch from pace to spin, with the two batsmen already set by the time she realised her mistake:
“I probably should have mixed up the pace and the spin a bit more. We adapted too slowly - they were well into their partnership by then, and they were seeing the ball as if it was a volleyball!”