Beaumont 148, Taylor 147, Kapp 3/77
South Africa 305/9
Lee 72, Wolvaardt 67, Tyron 54, Hazell 3/70
Result: England win by 68 runs
IF there was one over in this ICC Women’s World Cup contest that accurately reflected the gulf between these two teams it was the 40th over of the English innings.
South Africa’s captain Dane van Niekerk had called on her chief strike weapon Shabnim Ismail to come back and restrict the tournament hosts’ charge during the death overs. At the other end was England’s star batter Sarah Taylor, who admittedly was in fine form having just reached her sixth ODI century, waiting for the challenge.
Five consecutive sweetly-timed boundaries later from Taylor and South Africa were blown out of the park. It was sublime batting from the England wicket-keeper, who virtually hand-picked her areas.
To South Africa’s credit, they produced a spirited run-chase but England’s 373/5 was always going to be a bridge too far for SA’s batters.
The match was lost in the field, where the Proteas’ much-hyped bowling attack simply failed to adjust to the conditions. Unlike the previous match at Leicester when the pace bowlers blew away the West Indies under cloudy skies on a green-tinged pitch, the conditions at the County Ground in Bristol were vastly different.
It was near-perfect day with the sun drenching down on a hard surface tailor-made for stroke players such as Taylor (147 off 104 balls, 24×4) and Tammy Beaumont (148 off 145 balls, 22×4, 1×6).
The English pair added a record 275 for the second wicket that ultimately proved to be a match-winning contribution.
In the same way Taylor and Beaumont utilised a 360-degree approach to batting, hauling out the reverse-sweep and switch hit to audacious effect, so the conditions called on the South African bowlers to produce a “Plan B”.
Often the seamers simply tried to hit the deck back of a length or attempted to use conventional away-swing when the variations such as cross-seam deliveries or cutters were required to stem the run flow.
It will certainly be a learning experience for Proteas skipper Dane van Niekerk, especially also in regards to fielding placing when two batters are set, and her bowling unit.
“All credit to Tammy and Sarah. They batted us out of the game. Hindsight is always not the best thing to have. I would probably have bowled myself and Sune (Loos) more, but credit to the English batters, we took too long to adapt to these conditions. We really stuck to our plans and should have adapted quicker. We thought 280-300 would be a good score. We got past 300, which was great, but 370 was too big a score,” Van Niekerk said after the 68-run defeat.
South Africa are still well-placed to reach the semi-finals, but the competition only gets tougher from here with defending champions Australia and India lurking around the corner.