England coach Mark Robinson was over the moon with his team after they won the final IT20 of the Women’s Ashes to secure an 8-8 draw and a share of the spoils.
Although Australia’s win in the first IT20 at North Sydney Oval saw them retain the Women's Ashes, England’s victories in the final two games denied them outright victory.
“I’m hugely proud. We showed a lot of resilience,” said Robinson.
“We had to chase our tails quite a bit on this tour. Obviously the weather hit us pretty hard early on and then we were playing catch-up. We gave the game away in the first ODI and then we the lost the second ODI and we were nearly dead and buried.
“The team dug deep, took it to 4-2, and then survived despite being under the pump in the Test match.
“Like all teams we’ve got some weaknesses and some areas to improve but, my god, we’ve got some character and some resilience.
“The players are very together and that will get you a long way.”
England needed to win all three IT20s after the drawn Test match but Beth Mooney inspired the hosts to victory at North Sydney Oval.
Robinson was full of admiration for his side’s comeback after the emotion of that first IT20.
“The comeback says a lot about our team.
“I think last Sunday’s win in the second IT20 was the big victory. There were a lot of tears on the Friday night after Australia retained the Ashes and we had to go through a bit of mourning.
“Then we had a long journey and a game the next day at a ground we didn’t know and we rallied. The players put in a tremendous performance, they were just brilliant.”
That victory took the score to 8-6 and left England needing to win the final game to tie the series, a task they achieved thanks predominantly to Danni Wyatt’s maiden international hundred.
“On Tuesday, at the halfway point, I thought we were probably a bit spent and I wondered whether we’d exhausted ourselves with Sunday’s effort but we managed to dig deep and pull off something special.”
Robinson has now had two years in the job – a successful period for the England team – and such is the growth the team have gone through he believes the second and third IT20s are not games they would have won a year ago, at the World T20.
“The victory in the second IT20 was about running between the wickets, great fielding and fitness – the wicket for the third IT20 was an absolute belter and we saw some phenomenal batting.
“There aren’t many teams who chase that down in men’s cricket.
“When Ali Maiden and I first had the players, in Potchefstroom in 2015, we got all the records up on a big screen and said, ‘We’ve got to get some of our names up on here.’
“They’ve done that over the last two years and it happened again in the final IT20 – the highest-ever IT20 run chase in women’s cricket and our first hundred, by Danni Wyatt.
“At the moment I’m very, very proud and I’m so pleased for everybody.”
Wyatt was the side’s standout performer in the T20s after a frustrating 12 months over which she’s had to be patient.
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Robinson believes she’s now arrived as an international player: “She’s an enigma, isn’t she, because she’s so talented. We’ve worked really hard with her to make her a better player, to get her staying in line a little bit more and to allow her to play pace and spin equally well.
“She’s got all the tools and it was just about opportunity. She had a chance at numbers three and four against Sri Lanka but couldn’t quite take it and then we get to the World Cup and Fran [Wilson] does really well, and she had to make way.
What Danni’s done in the past is play really well for 20 or 30 without converting, and converting those 20s and 30s into big scores makes you undroppable. We believe she’s a better player now and we’ve been telling her as such, it’s then about a bit of luck and belief and those sort of things.
“She’s grabbed her chance this time round and hopefully this is the launch of her career, and we see a player properly arriving on the international scene.”
Her partner in crime for Tuesday’s victory was captain Heather Knight, who was voted as the Women’s Ashes Player of the Series. England’s coach was full of praise for his skipper.
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- AKA: Trev
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- Age: 26
- Domestic Team: Berkshire, Western Storm
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- Heather was part of the world record breaking team that played the highest ever game of cricket on Mount Kilimanjaro
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- Marcus Trescothick
“Everything about Heather is impressive, isn’t it? She’s just a great leader of people. She took a great catch on Tuesday, as well, and that’s what she does – she leads by example.
“We made a few changes to her technique between the World Cup and the Ashes and that’s a short time period. She had to buy into that and she did. We wanted her to be able to hit the ball a bit harder, especially on slower wickets, and it’s made her a better player, we think.
“That’s a sign of her bravery because it would have been easy to rest on her laurels but she wanted to improve and get better and that’s what you want.
She’s been tremendous, consistent with the bat throughout the series and she’s led the team brilliantly.”
Robinson’s side have now returned to the UK following a year which they’ll look back on with great pride.
“The first thing we do is we draw breath!” explained Robinson. “And then we look back on a fantastic year and congratulate the group.
“To win the World Cup, to sell out Lord’s, to come to Australia and draw 8-8 after being behind the eight ball for much of it – it’s been memorable.
“We may not have been able to win the Ashes but we haven’t lost them either. It’s been an amazing year.
“Hopefully over 2018 we can keep playing amazing cricket, on good wickets, and keep drawing people towards women’s cricket.”