All-round Edwards helps England go top
During the second World War, a secret bunker in Bankstown was used as the base for Australia's air-force operations. At the nearby Bankstown Oval on Saturday, Charlotte Edwards' England forced New Zealand to take shelter as they charged to a 31-run victor
England 5 for 201 (Edwards 57) beat New Zealand 170 (Tiffen 53, Edwards 4-37) by 31 runs
During the second World War, a secret bunker in Bankstown was used as the base for Australia's air-force operations. At the nearby Bankstown Oval on Saturday, Charlotte Edwards' England forced New Zealand to take shelter as they charged to a 31-run victory and further towards the final.
The sides had headed into the first round of the Super Sixes unbeaten, and so began the process of wresting the momentum from each other. It was a display replete with quality in all disciplines for each team, but ultimately England held the hard edge, and all seven catches.
Still, it was the England batsmen who had to batten down the hatches in the early stages, when they were in trouble on 4 for 96, on a true pitch under a golden sun.
Not for the first time, however, Edwards - deservedly named the Player of the Match - played the key hand with the bat, and starred with the ball taking 4 for 37. She was able to keep the lid over New Zealand, particularly through setting clinical fields - and her fielders responded exceptionally to the challenge.
Her first half-century of this tournament lifted England to 201 following some tight bowling from Sophie Devine, Nicola Browne and Sarah Tsukigawa. Edwards' 57 contained all her hard-hitting varieties and came at a crucial time.
Then Beth Morgan and Jenny Gunn - cleared to play after her bowling was reported - contributed a late flurry to thrust them just past the psychological 200-barrier. With the outfield damp from overnight rain, Morgan and Gunn chose to go aerial, with Gunn in particular impressing with a series of straight drives, including a long six. She also struck later with one of the key wickets, Suzie Bates, who flayed to cover where Isa Guha held a sharp catch.
For England, Sarah Taylor was an early casualty for 7, spooning up to mid-on where Lucy Doolan held on, having spilled an identical chance a few balls earlier. Caroline Atkins eased to 36 before being trapped low in front by Tsukigawa, before the feet of world's No 1 batsman Claire Taylor were glued to the crease as she, unusually, poked away from her body.
Before she was out, an edge from Claire Taylor had reared and smashed Priest in the mouth, dislodging a tooth - but without it being completely knocked out unlike her country-mate Daniel Flynn, who was also facing England when he had a similar accident. Priest returned to the field after treatment - her guts typical of her tough team-mates - but will need to see a dentist.
New Zealand's reply started well before being smothered by the spin of Edwards, Laura Marsh and Holly Colvin - at an early stage they lost 3 for 16. Tiffen held her side's hopes in her hands, but lost her wicket - to her opposing captain - hitting out towards the end in what was becoming an increasingly desperate chase. England's spinners continued to apply the squeeze and offered disciplined fielding to match. Although their batsmen are skilled chasers, on this occasion New Zealand really had no answers as England's fielders tumbled, dived and threw their way to success.
Edwards was understandably pleased with her side's effort against a formidable opponent. "I asked the girls for a bit extra today and we got that," Edwards said after the match. "I'm really, really chuffed, it's been a really good day for the girls."
As dark clouds hovered forebodingly over the ground, England marched ominously on. With previous favourites Australia - last tournament's juggernaut - troubled by India on the same day, England are looking utterly unstoppable.
Jenny Roesler is a former assistant editor at Cricinfo