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Analysing Dominant Wyatt and South Africa’s Campaign
Jay highlights the main stories from England’s semi-final victory over South Africa
Wyatt’s century and South Africa’s scattered plans
Before today, Danni Wyatt averaged 14.09 in 22 innings against the top 5 ranked ODI sides – Australia, South Africa, India, and New Zealand. She’d never scored a half-century at the top of the order against any of those teams.
Today she blitzed 129 off just 125 balls, undoubtedly the innings of her life. Even though she was dropped three times on the way to her century — on 22, 36 and 77 — and twice afterward — on 116 and 117 — she fully capitalized on her luck.
South Africa came in with a plan to bowl short and wide to her, packing the off side ring between extra cover and backward point. They wanted to block the cut, one of Wyatt’s favourite scoring shots, and even wanted to get her caught in the circle. Yet, that didn’t stop the tenacious opener from attempting the shot. She was able to keep the ball down on several occasions but wasn’t shy of going aerial either. Overall, the cut shot fetched her 34 runs, making it her most productive shot of the innings.
To their detriment, South Africa didn’t have a backup plan. As demonstrated by the diagram below, South Africa was able to keep her quiet when they bowled fuller in the corridor or on rare occasions when they banged the ball in and got it up above her chest. Yet, they simply didn’t bowl in those areas often enough.
In addition to wayward lines and lengths, Sune Luus made some curious bowling changes at the start of England’s innings. She made a double change in the ninth over, removing both Marizanne Kapp and Shabnim Ismail from the attack. Until then, England had laboured to 23-1 and they looked in serious danger of losing a second wicket in the powerplay.
Ayabonga Khaka began her spell with two short and wide deliveries in her first two balls, which Wyatt cut away to the boundary. Masabata Klaas overpitched in the tenth over and was driven to the fence by an increasingly confident Wyatt. To make matters worse, Klaas induced Wyatt’s outside edge in the same over only for it to be put down by Lizelle Lee at a wide slip.
Khaka, to her credit, only conceded three runs in her next two overs and bowled a wicked inswinger to trap Heather Knight in front. Strangely, she was removed from the attack and replaced by Chloe Tryon with the score on 62/2 after 14 overs. She was wayward when she was re-introduced in the 20th over for her second spell, either bowling too wide or too straight. She never found her radar again, leaking 66 runs in her ten-over quota.
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Early in her second spell, Shabnim Ismail got rid of Sciver with a sharp bouncer that she chipped to Kapp at mid wicket. In the 26th over, Kapp claimed the wicket of Amy Jones caught by a diving Chloe Tryon. Had Ismail, Kapp, or Khaka been given longer first spells, England may well have posted much less than their eventual 293/8.
South Africa missing Dane van Niekerk
No team felt the absence of a player more than South Africa felt the absence of Dane van Niekerk. They didn’t miss her too much as a middle order batter with Mignon du Preez and Marizanne Kapp seeing them home in tense chases. However, they certainly missed her as a tactician and arguably missed her bowling more than anything else.
Throughout the World Cup, Chloe Tryon and Sune Luus leaked 5.17 runs an over across 93 overs. Their 4 wickets in that time cost them 120.25 runs a piece.
At the end of the day, however, the South Africans had a reasonably good campaign where they won five out of seven completed games and won three out of their five games against top five opposition. Most impressive was how they were able to keep their cool and prevail in three tense thrillers.
Things could have been different for them had reigning ODI Player-of-the-year Lizelle Lee delivered in the tournament. The powerful opener could only score 81 runs in 7 innings at an average of 11.57. Perhaps she can be excused as she was short of match practice in the lead-up to the tournament. Lee arrived late as she was at home for the birth of her first child. The struggles of Tazmin Brits and Lara Goodall against Bangladesh meant that she had to walk straight back into the team for their second game against Pakistan after spending ten days in managed isolation.
There is no doubt Lee is still one of the best openers on the circuit, and it would take a brave person to bet against her recapturing that form. It could be argued that South Africa needs Lee to fire more than any other batter in their line-up. Other than Tryon, she is the only naturally quick-scoring player in a South African order full of calm innings-builders.
Overall, given the strength of their three frontline seamers and their batting depth, there is every chance South Africa will be able to go one or two steps further in subsequent global tournaments.
Excellent Ecclestone and England’s middle overs bowling
Since January 2019, Sophie Ecclestone has taken 52 ODI wickets operating at first change or later – more than anyone else in the world.
In that same period, she has bowled a remarkable 31 maidens in 33 innings, which is also more than anyone else. Among change bowlers with ten or more wickets, her economy rate of 3.63 is second only to Jess Jonassen who enjoys the luxury of never having to bowl to her own batting lineup.
Adding to England’s middle overs menace, Kate Cross was once again on point today, hitting the top of off more often than not. Take a look at this remarkable graphic depicting her average line and length throughout this World Cup.
Today, her setup of Sune Luus was pure class. For the first five deliveries of the over, she either rolled her fingers over the ball or held it back in her palm. Her final ball of the over was a fuller and quicker inswinger that caught Luus by surprise and clattered into her stumps.
You will notice Kate Cross’ name on the same chart of change bowlers. Out of change bowlers to have taken at least 10 wickets since 2019, she has the third-best average after Jonassen and Charlie Dean.
And speaking of Charlie Dean, it was certainly wise of England to drop Emma Lamb in favour of the frontline off spinner. Moreover, to stand a reasonable chance of beating Australia, a team should preferably have five frontline bowlers, who can take wickets. If England wants to retain any hopes of upsetting Australia in the final, they need to stick with Charlie Dean.
England’s recovery since losing their first three games of the World Cup has been admirable. They will head into Sunday’s final with five impressive wins on the bounce. Encouragingly for English fans and neutrals alike, they appear better equipped now to get one over Australia than at any other point in the last few years.
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