Australia v England, Women's World T20, final

Lanning marshals 'perfect' game

Australia's hat-trick of World T20 titles could not have been secured in more convincing style as they out-muscled England in a faultless performance

Alan Gardner in Mirpur

April 6, 2014

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'A pretty perfect game' - Lanning

Those expecting a verbal war, in fact a war of any sort, between Australia and England were to be disappointed. This was as handsome a win in a major final as you are likely to see, particularly between two teams with similar pedigree and billing. Australia did not give England a look in. Sledging would have been de trop.

The players in canary yellow had little need to do much chirping but they broke out into song at the end. There may have been some dancing too - Meg Lanning and Ellyse Perry took part in a flash mob during the group stage in Sylhet - once back in the changing room and out of the rain that swept in once the match had finished. For England, the music had barely started before it stopped.

Shackled by Australia's bowlers after being put in to bat, England paid for a lack of power that meant they went through the entire tournament without hitting a six. Australia struck 18, including four in the final. That statistic distilled one major disparity between the two best teams in the women's game, though Australia could claim the ascendency in most other areas on this occasion.


Australia Women take the celebrations up to the changing room, Australia v England, Women's World T20, final, April 6, 2014
Australia take the celebrations up to the changing room © Getty Images
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Lanning, Australia's tenacious, 22-year-old captain, was the guiding hand, marshalling her attack adroitly once again and then hammering the top score of the day, 44 from 30 balls. She promised that Australia would not curb their aggressive batting approach against England, who could call upon the tournament's leading wicket-taker in Anya Shrubsole, and she was true to her word. Her clean swing over long-off during Shrubsole's third over was as intimidatory as Mitchell Johnson's bouncer has become in recent months.

She fell short of seeing her team home, visibly irked when chipping a catch to mid-off. By then, however, Lanning's display of class and timing had put England out of the match. She was quick to capitalise on errors in line by England's bowlers and, to misquote Alex Turner, her sixes could put creases in the rain.

On that subject, her method is simple. "To start off with, you just swing really hard," she said with a smile. "We do do a lot of strength training. I think a lot of it's about timing rather than brute strength, we've got a few players who are able to do that. It's nice to be able to do that, I think it's certainly advantageous to be able to clear the rope, especially in T20. Throughout the tournament that's been a real positive."

Australia had twice lost Ashes series on points against England during the last eight months but Lanning, who only took over as limited-overs captain at the start of 2014, said that victory in the two T20s at the end of the most recent encounter gave them the confidence to "play a pretty perfect game" when it mattered. This was Australia's third World T20 title in a row and extended a run of recent victories over England in major tournaments.

A tentative start by England's openers, Charlotte Edwards and Sarah Taylor, set the tone for an insipid performance. Unable to hit the ball in front of the wicket with anything like the same power of Australia's order, they had to resort to deflections and sweeps. Both fell to Sarah Coyte, who was named Player of the Match for her parsimonious 3 for 16 from four overs.

By contrast, Jess Jonassen, in her second innings after being promoted to opener, larruped her third ball for six during an over from Danielle Hazell that cost 14. Australia cruised to 43 for 1 from the Powerplay, almost halfway to their target, and with Edwards searching for wickets, often having only two or three fielders outside the ring, England quickly unravelled. A partnership of 60 in 8.2 overs between Lanning and Ellyse Perry took them to the brink, before the victory charge from the sidelines and the bouncing yellow ball of celebration.

Did it provide a soothing balm after back-to-back Ashes losses, Lanning was asked? "Certainly does, we were disappointed with that but to be able to win three Twenty20 World Cups is really special," she said.

"We've got quite a young side but we're experienced in tough situations, pressure situations. We played really good cricket throughout the tournament and to win so convincingly in the final was great. I think the bowlers set it up for us, they started well, executed well. Really happy to be a part of it."

They certainly executed England's chances during a clinical performance. Both sides had come back from losing their opening World T20 games, both could not end with a win. "God gives the greatest battles to the strongest soldiers" says the tattoo on Coyte's forearm. Australia didn't need much help from upstairs on this one.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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