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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Rollicking Rolton's day at Lincoln

Karen Rolton had already established herself as one of the dominant figures of the CricInfo Women's World Cup but in the space of just 20 overs against South Africa today she made an indelible mark on the tournament.

The Australian left hander must have been listening to the groundstaff when they described the pitch at Lincoln University's BIL Oval as a belter. From the moment she arrived with Australia 20 for one in their chase for 170 to the moment she left on 107 not out with the game won, she put bat to ball in an array of shots that left the South African field and the privileged crowd gasping.

This was no slog fest. Each shot was appropriately chosen for the ball, hit with power and placed with precision. Few of her 17 boundaries came from shots in the air. For all that the South Africans ran and dived themselves into the ground, they could not contain the onslaught. And when a diving fielder did parry the ball away to safety from the boundary, Rolton and her partner in crime, Belinda Clark, ran four. It was that sort of day for the South Africans.

The class of her century was such that it seemed almost incidental that it was reached off a world-record 57 balls. The quality belied the speed of the execution. At the other end, Clark was given the ideal opportunity to play herself back into the form that has been eluding her during the tournament. The Australian captain was much the junior partner but produced plenty in her 49 not out to signal that she is back.

The pair put on 50 off 58 balls, 100 off 81 and 150 off 123.

The South Africans were left to shake their heads. As their coach, Rodney Willemberg, said after the game, his top order had batted well. "They proved that they can score runs."

Linda Olivier (34), Daleen Terblanche (22), Anina Burger (44), Cindy Eksteen (46) ensured that the Australians would face what on any other day might have been a competitive target. Certainly not one that they would be expected to pass in the 25th over with just one wicket down.

Even then, Charmain Mason and Cathryn Fitzpatrick with a late brace apiece ensured that the 180 plus that the South Africans had looked likely to achieve was reined in to 169, supposedly something for which the Australians would have to work.

Well, one did. Said Willemberg: "When you come up against Rolton in that form . . . . " A shrug of the shoulders said it all. The South African coach did say, in one of the very few allusions at this tournament to the men's game, that there was hardly a men's side that could have dealt with Rolton.

"That's one of the best knocks I've ever seen. It was awesome." And that from the opposition.

Talking to CricInfo about the innings, Rolton said she did not come into the match feeling something special was about to happen. "I just wanted a good hit out after scoring only 17 in the previous game."

She was still coming to terms with the innings. "It all happened so quickly." And she was not aware of the record until after the game, even with the previous record-holder keeping her company in the middle. Clark had held it with a century off 64 balls against Denmark in the 1997 World Cup.

More important to the new record holder was getting out of the game with a win. That was all the more important because they expected to face South Africa again in the first semi-final on Monday.

"They've had a look now and will be that much harder to beat for it."

What is scary for those still to face the world champions is that she believes that they are only now hitting top form. "We will need to be to go further."

But referring again to "that innings," she mused: "It was just one of those days. Tomorrow could be quite different."

  • Rollicking Rolton's day at Lincoln

    Karen Rolton had already established herself as one of the dominant figures of the CricInfo Women's World Cup but in the space of just 20 overs against South Africa today she made an indelible mark on the tournament