|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
Although she has won three World Cups with Australia, as captain her side came fourth in their worst-ever finish in March
June 18, 2009
If Australia are not careful, the World Twenty20 against England on Friday could be captain Karen Rolton's last match in charge. Rolton said in May that she would hand in the captaincy after the World Twenty20 so someone else could learn while she was still in the team.
At 34, this is also almost certainly Rolton's last world tournament even as a player - unless she hangs on until the World Twenty20 next year in the Caribbean - and her side owe it to her to go all-out to beat England.
Although she has won three World Cups with Australia, as captain her side came fourth in their worst-ever finish in March. Australia will want to make amends for Rolton and delay her big send-off until Sunday at Lord's. The game could do no better for the player made the first ICC Female Cricketer of the Year in 2006.
Australia aren't in their best-ever shape but they are hitting some decent form. The post-World Cup retirement of Emma Sampson left a large hole in the pace bowling department which has been exposed already this tournament. Spin bowlers Shelley Nitschke - who leads the bowling with five wickets and the batting with 93 runs - and Lisa Sthalekar are holding their ends up, though.
Batting-wise, Australia are firing of late, with contributions all the way down throughout the group, though they flopped inexplicably in the opener against New Zealand. Nevertheless, their batting depth is superior to England's without question.
Unusually, their fielders have been guilty of some glaring misses, but now is the time to turn it on at The Oval.
Australia also take the sharp psychological edge with three wins against England in their most recent meetings. The Southern Stars may have come second in their group courtesy of a loss to New Zealand but in some ways they are happier to be playing England than India - who beat them twice at the World Cup.
England may have the home crowd and home advantage but, for all their protestations that the trio of losses mean nothing, their coach Mark Lane has openly admitted that it haunts them and they can't work out how to shake it.
They'd better think fast - and also hope that their middle order succeeds if called upon. Too often have England relied on their star trio of Sarah Taylor, Charlotte Edwards and Claire Taylor.
England have won three out of three group matches so far and are the tournament favourites but Australia have shown time and again that you can never write them off. It's too close to call but Australia may just shade it.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
A look back at five high-profile exhibition matches