While England’s record over the last 18 months or so has been excellent, they looked nervous in this game. Australia were on top throughout. Having set a challenging total, they bowled with discipline and just about held their nerve as England, as their run chase became increasingly desperate, fell to a series of catches in the deep.
Perhaps England might still have stolen a win in the end. Australia, with their nerves becoming more apparent by the moment, put down four catches of varying difficulty in the final few overs – Blackwell’s dropping of Arran Brindle the most memorable of them – and with Erin Osborne donating a head-high full-toss for a no-ball in the final over – England could have won had Danielle Hazel hit the final ball for six. She could only mis-time it to midwicket, however, allowing Australia’s women to clinch the trophy.
In truth, England had done well to go so close. They had been behind the rate throughout their innings and, but for some bucolic hitting from Jenny Gunn in the dying overs, the margin would have been much greater. Gunn, thumping a four and a six off Julie Hunter, had reduced the equation from 35 required from three to 16 from the final over and, despite Osborne’s no-ball and Jess Jonassen dropping a simple catch, England had always left themselves too much to do.
England may also reflect that their decision to insert Australia after winning the toss backfired. While England have an excellent record batting second, by giving Australia first use of a fine batting surface, they allowed them to build a commanding total and then succumbed to the pressure of chasing against a disciplined attack and tight fielding unit. Only three times in their 63 match T20 history had they successfully chased more than 142 to win and, on the biggest stage, it proved beyond them. England will surely also rue the eight wides and no-ball they sent down. Bearing in mind the eventual margin of victory, those extra were to prove costly.
Australia’s opening batsmen set the tone with a partnership of 51 in 41 deliveries. Meg Lanning, taking advantage of some uncharacteristic loose bowling from Katherine Brunt, took 16 from the third over of the innings. Twice she drove Brunt – who also donated a front foot no-ball during the over – through the cover for boundaries, while Alyssa Healy pulled another boundary though square leg. With England’s spinners unable to stem the flow of runs, Australia reached 47 for 0 after their six Powerplay overs.
The introduction of Holly Colvin’s left-arm spin brought the breakthrough. Lanning, attempting to hit over the top, could only clip a return catch to the bowler while Laura Marsh, the fourth spinner introduced into the attack by the eighth over of the innings, might have had Healey caught at deep-square leg but the pull dropped just short of Shurbsole. At the halfway stage of their innings, Australia were 68 for 1.
Jess Cameron was soon into her stride. Having swept Marsh to the boundary, she then skipped down the pitch to drive her for another. While Healey was bowled after missing an attempted pull, Cameron, whose innings of 45 from 34 deliveries was Australia’s highest of the tournament, brought up the 100 with a very well executed reverse sweep for four off Marsh, before slog-sweeping Shurbsole for six, then ramping and pulling her for fours in an over that cost 17.
While Colvin, the pick of the bowlers, had Cameron taken at long-on, Alex Blackwell swept another four off Wyatt and, in partnership with Lisa Sthalekar, picked up the ones and twos as Australia set a challenging total of 142.
England were always behind the rate in their chase. While they picked up a boundary in each of the first four overs, they were unable to accumulate any singles and Marsh, frustrated by the escalating required run rate, perished when she mis-timed a drive and gave a return catch to the bowler.
Charlotte Edwards looked in fine form, though. Having hit the first ball of the innings for four, she clipped another over midwicket when Perry drifted on to her legs and greeted the introduction of the offspin of Osborne by taking two steps down the pitch and lofting the bowler over long-on for six. Two balls later, she lofted four more over the head of the same bowler and, after their six Powerplay overs, England were 34 for 1.
The end of the Powerplay resulted in the field spreading, however, and Edwards’ attempt to hit Sthalekar’s teasing off-breaks over the top resulted in a catch to long-on. Ellyse Perry produced an outswinger to account for the dangerous Sarah Taylor, edging an attempted drive, and with Lydia Greenway also falling to a catch in the deep and Danny Wyatt brilliantly caught at cover by a diving Blackwell, England were always behind the game.