All-round England sweep to victory
England Women 72 for 2 (Marsh 31) beat West Indies Women 71 for 8 (Colvin 2-5) by eights wickets
England Women romped to victory in the first of five Twenty20 internationals against West Indies Women, taking just 9.4 overs to chase down a target of 72 and complete their 16th consecutive win in the format. Though the pitches in Sri Lanka will not be quite the same as that at Chester-le-Street, the success of England's spinners augurs well for the upcoming Women's World Twenty20 and the chances of the team reclaiming the title they lost to Australia in 2010.
England openers, Charlotte Edwards and Laura Marsh, rattled along at almost ten an over, tickling the ball to all parts of the ground. Two strokes from Marsh showcased a combination of power and precision, as she lofted Tremayne Smartt down the pitch for four in the second over and later stepped away to thread a drive through the covers against Shanel Daley.
"It was great to start the series off like that," Marsh, the player of the match, said. "We're really pleased with our performance today, the opening bowlers bowled brilliantly and the spinners backed them up. We followed up well with the bat to get the job done. We're all looking forward to carrying this momentum forwards to Old Trafford on Monday."
Marsh put on a 58-run opening stand with Edwards, who was was strong square on both side of the wicket, as the on-looking members of the England men's side, including Ravi Bopara and Craig Kieswetter, were given a lesson in how to bat on the pitch ahead of their T20 international against South Africa. Although Marsh was stumped trying to slog down the ground and Sarah Taylor chipped to mid-off with six required, Edwards steered the winning single to third man without the need for even a halfway drink.
West Indies, missing star allrounder Stafanie Taylor, who was last month nominated for the ICC's Cricketer of the Year award alongside the likes of Saeed Ajmla and Alastair Cook, decided to bat after winning the toss. They got off to an abysmal start, however, as the ball swung from Katherine Brunt's very first delivery. Juliana Nero fiddled across the line second ball to be lbw and the left-handed Kycia Knight was also trapped in front by the last delivery, which snaked back in a manner reminiscent of a Vernon Philander inswinger.
Worse was to come when Deandra Dottin, holder of the record for the fastest hundred in T20 international cricket (male or female), pushed forward to her third delivery from Anya Shrubsole and was hit on the front pad as the ball again curved in seductively.
Captain Merissa Aguilleira lofted Brunt's slower ball over midwicket for the first four of the West Indies innings, putting on 28 with Shemaine Campbelle, but England's spinners found turn and bounce to stifle the scoring. After a string of overs that saw seven runs conceded from 21 balls, Campbelle was bowled round her legs by Holly Colvin as she shuffled across her stumps and, after finding Marsh almost impossible to score off, Aguilleira miscued an attacking stroke straight to mid-off.
England were tigerish, if occasionally wayward, in the field and Edwards demonstrated the effects of working with specialist coach Cookie Patel this year with a one-handed pick-up and throw from short fine leg to run out Britney Cooper with a direct hit. Taylor's hands then flashed quicksilver behind the stumps to have Stacy-Ann King stumped first ball before Shanel Daley skewed to point trying to hit across the line against Wyatt.
Smartt's run-a-ball 14 from No. 9 was liveliest knock of the innings as West Indies added 17 from the last three overs to avoid setting a new lowest score in the format. Though that was probably scant consolation.
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo