All-conquering England take title
After all the anticipation the first women's World Twenty20 final was somewhat of an anti-climax but in the end the better team prevailed to become Twenty20 champions at Lord's. Katherine Brunt's career-best 3 for 6 set up a target of 86 and though England took 17 overs to chase it, they won't spend sleepless nights worrying.
The match was really won and lost in the first ten overs in which New Zealand limped to 30 for 4 after failing to counter Brunt's inswing and going for some ridiculous shots of their own. Brunt, sporting a black-eye that gave her a scrappy look to go with her fierce bowling, got the best out of a pitch that had life early. She bowled full to get maximum effect out of the inswingers but also sneaked in some shorter deliveries that lifted awkwardly.
Two of Brunt's wickets were a result of poor shot selection - Doolan bizarrely went for a tentative scoop and popped a catch to the wicketkeeper, and Rachel Priest tried to hook a shorter delivery only to offer Brunt a return catch.
But she can certainly take all the credit for her first dismissal, that of New Zealand's top run-getter Aimee Watkins. Offspinner Laura Marsh had beaten Watkins two balls before. Brunt came in for her second over and pitched the first ball on middle and off and it straightened to take the off stump as Watkins missed the line and went for a drive. With New Zealand's in-form batsman out, Brunt proceeded to put the pressure on the new batsman Amy Satterthwaite, with yorker-length deliveries. She kept up the pressure in her next over that Satterthwaite was forced to play out as a maiden.
Nicky Shaw picked up from where Brunt left off - not only in the bowling department but also in the wicket-celebration one as the two had a dance-off after Shaw bowled Nicola Browne with one that angled in to the right-hander. New Zealand had a little breathing space when left-arm spinner Holly Colvin came to bowl in the 11th bowler. She gave away three wides in her first over and was unlucky to have two catches dropped of her bowling - a tough one by her - after that. By the end of the 16th over, New Zealand's batsmen had faced 59 dot balls. In the last five overs they managed only 32 runs and lost the final four wickets.
England's batsmen may have taken their time to chase the paltry total, but it wasn't because New Zealand's bowlers really tested them. Often the quality of the opposition makes you look better or worse than you are. Against India, New Zealand's seamers looked almost unplayable, their fielders sharp and accurate. But today, against a much stronger batting side, they seemed bereft of inspiration.
Sian Ruck and Kate Pulford bowled well but not the sort you need when defending 85. Charlotte Edwards hit Ruck for a four by moving to leg and making room to cut and Ruck countered that with an inswinger that bowled Edwards, who tried to make room again. Pulford got outswing to right handers and bowled just outside off stump, beating Claire Taylor's bat thrice in an over. However, with no slip employed England prospered; Sarah Taylor edged one from Pulford and it went for four after beating a diving Priest behind the wicket.
Fittingly Claire Taylor, the Player of the Tournament, hit the winning runs. She ended one run short of being the leading run-getter. This is the second time in three months that England have beaten New Zealand in a World Cup final and future encounters between the two sides will be just the more gripping to watch.
In today's Sunday Telegraph Scyld Berry wrote that if England win the match, they would become the first international side of either gender to be champions in all three formats. England have done that but more importantly proved through this tournament that Twenty20 suited to women and can be a format used to make the game more popular.
Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at Cricinfo