CricViz analyst Ben Jones looks at some key points from the ODI portion of the recent Ashes series.
Knight’s Quiet Series No Cause For Concern
More so than the rest of the Ashes tour, the ODI series quickly became about looking forward. With the urn lost, and a 50-over World Cup weeks away, performance and selection in the final stages of the tour were about trying to take some optimism into the tournament ahead. Unfortunately for captain Heather Knight, fresh off the back of a stellar performance in the drawn Canberra Test, she was unable to make any substantial scores, with 0, 18, and 9 in her three trips to the crease.
While Knight did not look at her best in the series (a false shot percentage of just under 25% is very high for a player of her class), it feels more than fair to chalk it up to a loss of motivation rather than form. Knight’s recent ODI record is immense, averaging 40+ in each of the last five calendar years, and at a healthy strike rate. Such is the need for instant results and constant recriminations, Knight’s failure in the last three games could be blown out of proportion, but there is no need.
Cross Excellent – Seam Depth Questionable
One through line in the last 20 years of women’s cricket – a time that has seen plenty of change globally and the landscape of the game always in flux – is that England can always rely on Katherine Brunt. This tour was no different, with 11 wickets in four matches, at an average of just over 13.
However, England have often lacked a follow-up to Brunt’s excellence, an absence which the team has grown used to – and why the re-emergence of Kate Cross as a world class white ball seamer is so valuable. Since returning to the side in 2019, Cross has been outstanding, taking 39 wickets in 22 matches at an average of just 17.53. Her 3-33 in the second ODI, where she dismissed Alyssa Healy and Meg Lanning, the latter with an absolute beauty of a delivery, was arguably the bowling performance of the tour; her consistency has been a significant highlight for Knight’s side.
Beyond that fair, performances have varied. Freya Davies has often flattered to deceive in the early stages of her ODI career, but her performance in the final match at Junction Oval was encouraging. Her accuracy has too regularly been lacking, but here it was much improved – 44% of her deliveries were on a good line and length, the highest figure she’s recorded across her short stint in the side. She was able to build pressure nicely, and deserved slightly better than the 10-1-46-1 against her name, but she is still an unknown quantity. Tash Farrant struggled in the same game, as she did against New Zealand last summer, and Anya Shrubsole’s early inroads are becoming less and less frequent. For now, Cross and Brunt can take the bulk of responsibility, but the depth is concerning.
England Need to Trust in Glenn
After the first (and eventually) only T20I of the Ashes, England saw fit to drop Sarah Glenn the leg spinner, and did not select her for any of the ODI matches either. Glenn took a pasting in that one match, going for 39 off her three overs, with Tahlia McGrath rinsing five boundaries from 10 balls, and there was a sense that Australia were lining her up, but the speed with which she was seemingly deemed out of their plans was a concern. England have struggled for middle overs wicket takers of late, and while Glenn’s actual record in that phase is solid rather than spectacular (eight wickets in nine matches, averaging 26) she does have the skills to be a real threat. England may simply have been looking to assess the other options, and life as a young white ball spinner is always a rollercoaster. Glenn’s decision to rest herself from the World Cup, with concerns of bubble fatigue and broader mental health considerations, is admirable maturity for a young athlete approaching the obvious pinnacle of her career to date. When she returns to the international arena, England need to use her properly.
The Wyatt Conundrum
In 84 ODIs, Danni Wyatt has made just three 50+ scores. It is fair to say that she has underachieved, given her undoubted talent, but there has been an uptick in her recent performances, with two of those 50+ scores coming in her last 12 ODIs – one opening the batting (a century against Pakistan in December 2019) and one at No.7 (a 63 against New Zealand last September). That sums up the dilemma for England’s management going into the World Cup. In a line-up which has shown glimpses of clicking into a coherent, progressive batting group – most notably in the last ODI against NZ, when they smashed 347 – Wyatt down the order is a valuable asset, a flourish in the final overs. However, in games like the final ODI against Australia, where a lack of impetus early on was allied with a limp debut dismissal for Emma Lamb, Wyatt down the order feels like a waste of resources not unlike Beaumont batting down in the last T20 World Cup. If Lauren Winfield-Hill has been dropped rather than simply rested, you wonder if opting for an internal solution, rather than throwing Lamb or Eve Jones in last minute, would be a solid option.