Opportunity knocks for England
Both are too modest to say as much, but Lydia Greenway and Arran Brindle have proved there is life for England women after Claire Taylor.
The current tour of South Africa represents England’s first since Taylor retired from international cricket, bringing to an end the career of one of the greatest players to have graced the women’s game.
If there were concerns that the absence of their most prolific batter would leave England with a hole too great to fill, they were banished in emphatic fashion at the earliest opportunity yesterday.
Greenway, promoted to number four, and Brindle, handed a chance to impress at five, hit maiden ODI centuries to propel England to 297 for three - and a resounding 62-run win in the opening one-day international at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom.
Their unbroken alliance of 218 - the second highest for the fourth wicket in women’s ODI cricket - was the highlight of a thoroughly impressive performance that bodes well not only for the remainder of England’s trip but also their long-term future.
“You have to take your opportunity when it presents itself,” Brindle, whose 107 not out spanned just 102 balls, told ecb.co.uk.
“I was batting down the order in the summer and I didn’t get that many chances to bat a lot of overs. Time was pretty limited to build an innings.
“To get back in at number five, you have to take it with both hands. Claire is always going to be missed in any team - any world-class player would - so somebody has got to put their hand up. It was me and Lydia yesterday.”
For Greenway, who enjoyed a sparkling summer with the bat, the added responsibility of marshalling the middle order brought immediate dividends in the form of an unbeaten 125 off 127 deliveries.
“With Claire Taylor not being around any more, I’ve got a chance to set the tone of the innings,” she told ecb.co.uk.
“My job is to pace the innings and to make sure that we hit targets. I’ve got to take on more responsibility and I’m happy to do that. It’s a nice opportunity.”
Greenway’s joy at reaching three figures for the first time, in her 89th match, was obvious, but Brindle’s delight was tinged with relief.
She came out of international retirement this summer - after a five-year absence - and, despite winning many admirers for her displays in men’s club cricket for Louth CC in Lincolnshire in recent seasons, she admitted: “There’s always that unknown factor.
“Playing a high standard of men’s cricket is one thing, but pulling on an England shirt and playing international cricket, with all the pressure, is completely different.
“The women’s game had got a lot better since I retired, but I also felt my game had developed. I hoped that I had something to offer the side.
“I missed the 2010 season with an injury, and having to watch other people play was hard. It made me realise that if I don’t do it now I’ll never do it.”
When Brindle talks about “taking the game to the next level”, she is referring to the remainder of this tour and beyond.
Indeed, coach Mark Lane used a team meeting this morning to point out areas of improvement ahead of tomorrow’s encounter at the same venue.
“We could have got a few more runs and faced fewer dot balls,” said Greenway. “We’re always looking to improve.
“We don’t want to rest on our laurels. South Africa came at us quite hard yesterday and we know that we’re going to have to get bigger scores.”
Even without Taylor, England appear well equipped to do so.