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Magnificent Matthews and How the West Indies won a Thriller
In our first collab with Cricket Queens, we dissect the West Indies' dramatic opening day victory at the World Cup
Katey Martin surveys the field. She looks leg side. Because that’s what you do when you need 14 off 8.
Two years ago, on March 8th 2020, the sight of 86,174 fans packing into the MCG whetted our appetites for today. Soon after, though, our patience was tested when the World Cup was delayed by more than a year.
Perhaps the cricketing gods knew this. This was their way of saying “Sorry! Now, here’s a thriller to make up for it.”
Martin drags Henry to the vacant wide long on region for four. 10 needed off 7.
She cuts Henry over backward point for another four. 6 needed off the last over.
Deandra Dottin demands to bowl the final six deliveries.
The equation is soon down to 5 off 5. Dottin runs in and lands an inswinging yorker to perfection. Martin is late on it. And the finger goes up! 5 off 4.
Up to that point, Dottin had not bowled a single over in ODIs for approximately three years…but it doesn’t show.
She attempts another yorker. She misses her length. But she knew that Kerr would attempt to clear Henry at mid off. So she followed Kerr, disrupting the arc of her bat swing. There isn’t enough power on the shot. Henry takes it!
4 off 2. 17-year-old Fran Jonas walks to the middle. She’s at the non-striker’s end. Dottin runs in and once again, it’s full. Hannah Rowe misses. She briefly contemplates where she will get the boundary required off the last ball.
But she’s cut off mid-thought.
Jonas wants to steal a bye. By the time Rowe realizes this, Dottin has the ball back and whips the bails off.
The West Indians are jubilant! Rowe is crouched down. She’s pondering the what ifs…
And that’s how the World Cup started! Here are four more talking points from a dramatic first day.
Matthews century: picking her battles
Hayley Matthew’s graced the tournament with a match-winning knock of high quality and pure artistry. She eased into her innings by putting a full toss away through the covers before cracking a pull off Jess Kerr in front of square. This was soon followed by a controlled pull where she rolled her wrists on a Sophie Devine delivery and swiveled to get it to the square leg boundary.
Thanks to Matthews’ quick start, this was the first time in the last 28 ODIs that the West Indies had posted 50 inside the powerplay.
Aside from her power and poise at the crease, what stood out about Matthews is how she paced her century and targeted the right bowlers.
While she raced to 25 off her first 20 balls, she dropped anchor accumulating just 39 runs off her next 60 deliveries. This period coincided with a spell where Melie Kerr had the ball on a string. Matthews didn’t score a single boundary off her, scoring 13 runs off 30 deliveries against the threatening leg-spinner.
In contrast, she attacked left-arm spinner Fran Jonas, scoring 22 off the 23 balls she faced from the teenager.
Between balls 81 – 100 of her innings, Matthews pummeled 25 runs. She slowed down as she approached her century and cut loose after reaching the landmark, smashing 19 off her last eight deliveries. She might have been running out of partners, but she never ran out of patience in a memorable knock for the ages.
New Zealand’s spinners and the absence of Kasperek
Jonas was introduced in 17th over of West Indies’ innings and was immediately swept for four by Stafanie Taylor off the second ball she bowled to her. In her next over, Taylor danced down the track and lofted her straight over her head for another boundary.
Jonas was taken out of the attack, following which Stafanie Taylor was strangled down the leg side in a fortunate reprieve for the White Ferns. Stafanie had scored 10 off Jonas’ 7 deliveries and it could have been worse.
However, at 107/3 after 22 overs, Sophie Devine brought back the left-arm spinner. Jonas resumed with a full toss, which Matthews smashed straight down the ground for four. Jonas closed out the over by drifting down the leg side to gift Shemaine Campbelle her first boundary.
Jonas followed this up with two quiet overs, but her 6th over went for 11 runs. Her first two deliveries were in the slot and Matthews took her down the ground and wide of long on for consecutive boundaries.
In contrast, Melie Kerr was tight throughout her spell. As Nasser Hussain pointed out on-air, what makes her so effective is that she releases the ball from a 12 o’clock position or slightly beyond that, whether she bowls the googly or the traditional leg spinner. Just like her googly, the back of her hand is also visible when she bowls the traditional leg spinner, which makes it hard for batters to differentiate between the two.
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To add to this, Kerr bowled at the right pace for the surface with her quicker ones often clocking between 47 and 49 miles per hour.
Yet again, however, Jonas’ returns raise the question of why Leigh Kasperek was not included in the Whiter Fern’s squad. 11 months ago, on the same ground, she took figures of 6-46 against Australia.
Imagine how effective New Zealand could be if they had another proven match-winner and wicket-taker in their ranks to partner Melie Kerr in the middle overs.
Tahuhu’s late movement
Lea Tahuhu was a threat that was always looming large ahead of the opening encounter of the tournament. This is because New Zealand offers conditions that are meant for the pacers to thrive, especially with the new ball. When you dig into the technical details, you realize why Tahuhu is so effective.
Tahuhu has a slanted-arm action that provides a unique angle of release for the batters to contend with. This leads to the ball swinging from her hand a touch and seaming away after pitching. She generates that late movement and this can be deadly when she gets her lengths right.
What makes her more effective is the fact that she can move it both ways. So, a batter needs to be careful in playing cut shots against balls that come back in as they can easily chop it back onto the stumps.
Similarly, they have to guard against closing the face of the bat against deliveries that move away as they can easily get an outside edge or a leading edge.
Today, Dottin found this out the hard way. Tahuhu delivered a fuller delivery that moved away late. Dottin attempted to unleash her signature flick off the legs, but she closed her bat face too early, Tahuhu got her patented late swing and the leading edge was gobbled up by Jess Kerr in the circle.
Similarly, Tahuhu returned at the death to dismiss Chedean Nation with a classical caught behind dismissal. In spite of leaking 57 runs in her nine overs, Tahuhu was a persistent wicket-taking threat throughout the West Indies innings, and don’t expect that to change as the tournament goes on.
West Indies’ dropped chances
Not one. Not two. But five catches were put down by the West Indies’ fielders! All of these catches were put down at crucial junctures. Devine was put down twice in the 19th and 32nd over, Amy Satterthwaite was dropped once in the 24th over, Katey Martin was dropped once in the 41st over and Jess Kerr was put down once in the 48th.
Matches are about winning the small moments, but Windies barely grabbed them. Yet, they emerged victorious and it came down a lot to the fact that they were better with their ground fielding and managed to create a positive impact of saving 15-20 runs. Had they held onto their catches early on, New Zealand would barely have got a sniff of chasing down the target. If the West Indies hopes to make the semi-finals, they will have to find an immediate remedy for their butterfingers.
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