England women clinch series

Laura Marsh

Laura Marsh picked up four wickets for 19 runs in England's 77-run victory

England's bowlers wrapped up the NatWest women's series after a 77-run triumph over South Africa at Shenley.

Following victories at Canterbury and Lord's, Charlotte Edwards' side took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series, although it took a disciplined display in the field to set up the win.

Just 72 hours after hammering 310 runs at Lord's, England's batters capitulated following a host of rash shots which left coach Mark Lane fuming.

Fortunately for the home side, Lydia Greenway displayed some much-needed application at the crease and were it not for a one-day best of 61 not out, England might have struggled to post anything respectable.

After winning the toss and electing to bat first, Lord's centurion Caroline Atkins failed to scale the heights of Friday as she made just three before chipping a simple catch to Charlize van der Westhaizen.

Fellow opener Ebony Rainford-Brent, recalled to the side, looked in good touch and was particularly aggressive against anything pitched short.

Claire Taylor looked in ominous form at the other end, a sublime cover drive in the seventh over evidence of her class, but, seemingly on the cusp of a big score, she departed in freakish circumstances.

After failing to connect with an extravagant drive off Ashlyn Kilowan, Taylor was stumped by an alert Trisha Chetty whose under-arm throw caught the star batter short of her ground.

England stuttered to 61 for three soon after when Edwards mistimed a rank long-hop from van der Westhaizen straight to Sunette Loubser at short midwicket.

Rainford-Brent, meanwhile, appeared in little trouble as South Africa resorted to spin at either end, twice hitting over the top in successive overs to bring her within five runs of a maiden half-century in England colours.

She will have to wait for that landmark, however, after getting a thin tickle off van der Westhaizen which Chetty did wonderfully well to hold - a wicket that signalled a mini-collapse.

The hosts suffered a further setback in the same over when Jenny Gunn was trapped leg before for a duck to leave her side on 91 for five.

Sarah Taylor, England's other century-maker last Friday, was the next to go, caught at mid-off attempting an ungainly heave across the line.

Greenway could only stand at the other end and watch as the wickets continued to tumble. Nicola Shaw played arguably the shot of the day, a delightfully-timed drive off van der Westhaizen, but the bowler got her revenge in the same over courtesy of Chetty's smart catch down the leg-side.

When Laura Marsh's innings was terminated by Susan Benade, England were in the mire at 136 for eight.

The resolute Greenway, who made her 50th one-day appearance in the 225-win at Lord's, used all her experience to dig England out of a hole.

Charlize van der Westhuizen

A comical run-out ended the England innings as Charlize van der Westhaizen whipped off the bails

Picking off singles as she found a useful ally in Holly Colvin, Greenway held the innings together and ensured England used the bulk of their overs when it looked like lunch might be served early.

Opening her shoulders to unleash a sweep which raced for four, much to the delight of her hollering team-mates, the left-hander, who turned 23 on Wednesday, reached her second one-day half-century with a crisp cover-drive that pierced the two boundary riders.

She eventually ran out of partners as first Colvin was caught, soon followed by Katherine Brunt who was the victim of a rather comical run-out.

Taking the field as a trumpeteer belted out the national anthem, England knew they needed to make early inroads into the South African top-order after an inept display with the bat. They duly responded through Brunt who trapped Claire Terblanche lbw with just four scored.

Gunn took aim and fired out two of South Africa's batters, holding a catch off her own bowling to dismiss captain Cri-Zelda Brits and then enticing the dangerous Alicia Smith to chip straight to Shaw after an entertaining knock of 30. It was her 50th one-day wicket.

The impressive Colvin then went to work to further engineer South Africa's downfall.

Bowling with a lovely loop which lured batters into playing their shots, the 18-year-old took the first of her three wickets with a smart return catch off Benade. Atkins and Rainford-Brent both took catches off the left-arm spinner as she completed a wonderful treble that cost just 20 runs.

Colvin's spin-twin Marsh was equally destructive at the other end as South Africa continued to struggled against slow bowling. She finished with 4-19, the day's best figures, three of which were bowled.

England captain Charlotte Edwards said: “I’m delighted with the way the girls have played so far.

"We had an awesome day at Lord’s last Friday and then to take the series at Shenley is just fantastic.

"We just need to continue in this form as we head into the last couple of games of this series and the NatWest Women’s International Twenty20 series."

The two teams will return to Shenley for the fourth ODI on Thursday.