Reynard outfoxes South Africans
A career-best score and a brilliant runout by Melissa Reynard saw the England women's team to a 20-run victory in a low scoring match against South Africa at Chelmsford yesterday.
England's win in the opening game of the five-match one-day international series was their first in an ODI since July 11 last year against India and their second since the World Cup quarter-final against Sri Lanka on December 21, 1997. Unfortunately they also lost 17 in the same period.
Yesterday's clash was, on the whole, an unimpressive display by the majority of batsmen on both sides, and it was the superior fielding of the English which made the difference.
Reynard, newly appointed as England vice-captain, was named player of the match for her 54-ball 46 late in the England innings and her direct-hit runout of Helen Davies, but went wicketless in the role she is selected for, that as left-arm nedium-pace change bowler.
England captain Clare Connor won the toss and elected to bat under threatening skies yesterday morning. Her decision to drop herself down the order appeared to backfire with the early loss of openers Charlotte Edwards (2) and Claire Taylor (9), both falling to Yulandi van der Merwe. Her newball partner, off-spinner Kerri Laing, removed 18 year-old debutante Arran Thompson, who played an audacious shot to be dismissed, charging down the pitch, missing the ball, and being stumped by wicketkeeper Daleen Terblanche.
With the score at 39 for 3, and play reduced to 44 overs a side following a 114-minute (less lunch) rain delay, Clare Connor came to the crease and was duly trapped plumb lbw first ball. Since taking over the England captaincy midway through the disastrous Antipodean tour earlier this year, Connor has scored 27 ODI runs at 4.50 - a figure that has probably not escaped the notice of fans of the now-discarded Karen Smithies.
Jane Cassar survived the hat-trick ball, and built a fine partnership with Barbara Daniels, who was the dominant figure in the early overs of the England innings. She was one run short of her fifty, however, when Levonia Lewis' first ball of the match saw the England number three drawn forward and struck on the pad, out leg before wicket. Daniels' 49 had come from 89 deliveries, in which she struck five boundaries.
The run out of Kathryn Leng without scoring saw Reynard come to the crease at 83 for 6. She brought some much-needed aggression into the England batting. Reynard and Cassar scored at the high rate of four an over before Cassar (26) was run out, taking off from the bowlers end for a single that was not there.
Reynard took advantage of some poor outfielding as England built a score that gained at least some respectability. One over from Levonia Lewis saw fourteen runs and two dropped catches. Reynard was in sight of her first international half-century when the last two wickets fell in an eventful 44th over. Clare Taylor (not Claire who batted earlier) was run out attempting a foolish second run after Lewis dropped a caught-and-bowled from the previous ball. Bereft of the strike, Reynard could only watch as Lucy Pearson smashed a straight drive back into the hands of Lewis to go for a second-ball duck.
England were dismissed for 159 after it looked at one time that they may struggle to get past 100. Kerry Laing had the best of the South African bowling figures, with 2/12 from nine overs.
The Duckworth-Lewis calculations were applied to determine the South African target following the earlier rain interruption, when England were 26 for 2 after 12.2 overs. As it turned out, the revised target was unchanged at 160.
South Africa, making their first full international appearance since February 17, 1999, started their chase badly, Kerrie Laing suffering the unusual indignity of being caught by Claire Taylor at slip off the bowling of Clare Taylor. Three runouts saw South Africa at 44 for 4 in the 21st over, the best of them coming when Melissa Reynard threw down the stumps from fine leg to remove Helen Davies. All three runouts could be put down to poor running between wickets.
South Africa were down to 46 for 5 when Terblanche took a swing and a miss to be stumped by her opposite number Cassar off Clare Connor's bowling. At the other end, Linda Olivier, who had an accomplice to each of the three runouts, scored her 20th run from the 75th ball she faced in the innings. This, however, represented an acceleration in scoring after taking 49 balls to reach double figures.
The departure of Denise Reid (6), attempting unsuccessfully to hoist Dawn Holden over Clare Connor at deep mid-on, brought the score to 62 for 6. Sunnette Viljoen, who turned seventeen just eleven days ago, joined Olivier and the pair took a liking to the leg-spin bowling of Kathryn Leng. Olivier brought up her half-century from 117 deliveries (four fours). Dropped next ball by Arran Thompson, she departed soon after on 52, chipping a ball from Lucy Pearson straight to Charlotte Edwards.
The seventh-wicket partnership between Olivier and Viljoen, one player twice the age of the other, yielded 50 runs in 12 overs - not enough to stem a mounting required run-rate. South Africa were still 21 short of the victory target when Viljoen snicked the last ball of the match to Cassar to be the ninth batsman out. Her 37 from 51 deliveries included just two boundaries, and she will be a player to watch, both in the remainder of this series and in the World Cup later this year.
For England, Leng, though expensive, was the most successful bowler (2/36 from seven overs), while Clare Taylor took 1/14 from her nine overs.
The next meeting of these two teams will be at Trent Bridge on Thursday. If South Africa can sharpen their fielding and their running between wickets, they can show that will threaten England more often in this series.