England women wrap up series
England women overcame some early struggles with the bat to triumph in the NatWest Quadrangular Twenty20 series following a 16-run victory over Australia in the final at the Rose Bowl.
With a 100% record in the group stages, including a 22-run victory over Australia on Saturday, Charlotte Edwards' side went into the clash as favourites to lift the trophy.
However, they once again failed to shine with the bat and only a partnership of 53 off 31 balls from Lydia Greenway and Arran Brindle helped them recover from 76 for five off 14.2 overs.
Greenway was particularly impressive, striking five fours on her way to 48 as England accelerated their innings in the last five overs, but their total of 132 for nine was undermined when they lost four wickets off the final four deliveries.
The hosts quickly found their stride in the field, though, and disciplined bowling meant Australia never threatened to chase down the total.
Holly Colvin was the pick of the attack, with 2-16 from four overs and, although Alex Blackwell and Lisa Sthalekar put on 73 for the fifth wicket, Australia were always behind the run-rate as they finished on 116 for eight.
Captain Edwards paid tribute to her winning side, saying: “It’s been a great day. I’m really proud of the team; we’ve all worked hard for this.
"We have a great mix of players in the squad at the moment, some of the youngsters are really stepping up to the mark and everyone has contributed to the success.
“It’s been fantastic to play in front of such good crowds during the series. The players enjoy it and it’s great for the profile of the women’s game.
“We won’t be resting on our laurels as we move into the 50-over series, but we will take this momentum with us.”
England, unchanged from their convincing 46-run triumph over India in their last group match yesterday, made a decent, if unspectacular, start after losing the toss and being put in to bat before Laura Marsh became the first of four run-outs, beaten by Lisa Sthalekar’s direct hit.
Fellow opener Edwards then took the initiative, striking three fours on her way to 21 to help increase the run-rate but, just as she was starting to look settled, she holed out to Jess Cameron at deep square-leg off Sthalekar.
England’s woes were deepened when Danielle Wyatt was bowled by Shelley Nitschke's arm ball, while Claire Taylor, who had top-scored with 66 against India, fell lbw to off-spinner Erin Osborne.
By the time Sarah Taylor had been bowled hitting out at Clea Smith, England were some way short of a competitive total.
Greenway and Brindle wasted little time in finding their respective gears though and the former registered England’s first boundary in six overs with a reverse-sweep off Osborne.
The pair made light of the top order’s struggles by thumping 26 runs in two overs, and Greenway looked well on her way to a half-century when she struck two fours in the 19th over.
However, the last four balls of the innings saw wickets go down, three of which - including Greenway and Brindle - came via run-out.
Brindle was the first to go for 18 as she came back for a second run, while Jenny Gunn hit her first ball, a full toss, back to a grateful Osborne.
Greenway was then run out at the non-striker’s end as she reacted to Katherine Brunt’s call for two, whilst Danielle Hazell went without facing as England looked for three off the last ball.
England’s score was still deemed to be competitive on a pitch that had assisted the spinners and so it proved when Australia came out to bat.
The hosts made the breakthrough in the second over when Leah Poulton, who scored 61 in Australia’s six-wicket win over New Zealand yesterday, came charging at Brindle only to get a leading edge that was pouched by Wyatt at wide mid-on.
Australia’s run-rate slowed considerably, with Marsh and Brunt keeping scoring opportunities to a minimum. With the required rate creeping towards eight an over, opener Meg Lanning was trapped in front for 13 by Colvin after missing a sweep shot.
Cameron struck a rare boundary off Marsh to help relieve the pressure on Australia but she was bowled next ball for 17 attempting to cut, while Nitschke suffering the same fate off Colvin.
Alex Blackwell and Sthalekar set about repairing the damage and, although they managed to pick up ones and twos, boundaries were hard to come by.
Their 73-run partnership was made off 10.4 overs and by the time Blackwell was run out for 33, Australia needed 23 off the last over.
Similar to England, the final three deliveries produced wickets, including Sthalekar for 43 off the penultimate ball, as Australia chased the game to no avail.
Earlier in the day, an unbeaten 33 from Jhulan Goswami helped India beat New Zealand by three wickets in the third place play-off at the The Army Cricket Ground in Aldershot.
Goswami had earlier taken 1-17 as the Kiwis reached 95 for seven. After overcoming a shaky start, India reached their total with one ball to spare.