|Georgia Elwiss in full flow |
(c) Don Miles
Elwiss's innings was indicative of the new fearless style of cricket that Mark Robinson, along with coaches Ali Maiden and Ian Salisbury, seems to have instilled in the girls, in his brief tenure at the top of the women's game. Amy Jones, Lauren Winfield, Danni Wyatt and Elwiss all seem to have been asked to play their own pugnacious style of cricket. With the steadying influences of Charlotte Edwards and Heather Knight in the top order mix and with Nat Sciver to come back, it is a heady combination, which may sometimes come unstuck, but will make England an exciting team to watch.
In this series it was not the batting that let England down, but the fielding and the bowling, combined with an exceptional batting display from Lizelle Lee and Marizanne Kapp in the second ODI. England bowled better in the final ODI restricting South Africa to 196/9, and indeed it would have been far fewer had it not been for another belligerent innings from Lee (74) ably supported by the young Sune Luus (20), who will make a top order batsman over the next few years, and also sets the standard in the field for the Proteas. She, along with skipper Mignon Du Preez and 17 year old Laura Wolvaart, took stunning catches in the second ODI to remove set English batsmen and allow South Africa to outfield the England side in all three games. If they can bring that intensity and skill to their T20 game then South Africa could well trouble England in this format too, and their Group A opposition in the WT20 next month - Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Ireland. They will back themselves to beat Sri Lanka and Ireland, and if they can sneak a win against New Zealand or even Australia (who no longer look quite so infallible), or they slip up in any of their other games, South Africa will make the semi-finals of another world championship competition.
England will be relieved to have picked up the four points they have from the ICCWC games, which takes them to 13, equal with South Africa in fourth place in the table. England have by far the easier run in in the competition with Pakistan, Sri Lanka and West Indies to play. South Africa on the other hand have West Indies (currently second on 16 points), New Zealand (currently third on 14 points) and Australia (currently top on 20 points). The West Indies' other series is against India (6th), who are currently playing Sri Lanka (1-0 to India so far), and finish with Pakistan. They are not out of the running if they can replicate the form they recently showed against the Aussies. New Zealand are due to face Australia in five days time, before being hosted by South Africa and then finishing with a home series against Pakistan.
For now England and South Africa will focus on the T20 format of the game. They play each other on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, with the latter two games being televised. The WT20 then kicks off on 15th March. It is looking like it could be the most fiercely contested world championship tournament ever.
[3rd ODI scorecard]