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Match Analysis

Wyatt rides the ups and downs to provide England template

Opener uses vast experience to demonstrate attacking "balance" sought by Jon Lewis

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
Danni Wyatt acknowledges her half-century, England vs Pakistan, 3rd Women's T20I, Headingley, May 19, 2024

Danni Wyatt acknowledges her half-century  •  ECB via Getty Images

It's the halfway point of the innings and England are doing okay on 69 for 2, then Danni Wyatt appears to flick the switch.
Up to that point she had contributed 42 of her team's runs. Then she charges at Nida Dar and lifts the ball towards the long-on fielder who backpedals over the boundary rope as the ball sails beyond. She thrashes the next delivery through square leg to bring up a 34-ball half-century. Not done there, she helps herself to two more boundaries - making it 20 runs in all off the over - to seize control of the game.
She was the only England player to do so, with Amy Jones their next-highest scorer with 26. But a lofty target of 177, thanks to Wyatt, proved beyond a Pakistan side whose batting depth has been wanting despite a doughty effort in this match.
What this series has shown England is that they are building good depth with different players contributing with bat and ball throughout. In the opening match at Edgbaston it was Jones, Heather Knight and Dani Gibson who rescued them from 11 for 4 before Sarah Glenn's four-wicket haul. At Northamptonshire Alice Capsey, Maia Bouchier and Nat Sciver-Brunt all made runs without pressing on to big scores before a strong all-round bowling display led by Sophie Ecclestone bundled Pakistan out for 79.
It also shows there is work to be done with a T20 World Cup looming in Bangladesh later this year, given that Pakistan are six places below them on the ICC T20I rankings.
Wyatt was dropped by wicketkeeper Muneeba Ali on 12 then, having overturned an lbw decision on 35 when DRS showed she'd hit the ball, was put down twice more in the space of three deliveries, Aliya Riaz grassing a chance at mid-off when she had 79 and Sadaf Shamas unable to hold on as she ran in from deep cover. Sadaf made amends two balls later, however, when Wyatt smashed Diana Baig straight to the same region to fall for a blistering 87 from 48.
Wyatt, who joked that she was making a beeline for the casino after play, felt she was due a meaningful innings after previous scores of 1 and 6 in this series and a highest score of just 21 in five innings across both white-ball formats on the recent tour of New Zealand.
"I failed in the first two games so I really wanted a score today," Wyatt said. "But I also wasn't getting too stressed about it. I've had ups and downs most of my career and I think it's the way I play with intent. I'm going to fail more times than I come off, but Lewy wants us to go out there and take the game on from ball one, which is what I do when I'm at my best."
It was the type of aggressive innings Jon Lewis, England Women's head coach, has set about instilling in this group since taking on the role some 18 months ago. It also carried the sort of risk-and-reward element he says his side is still seeking to balance. Before Sunday's third and final T20I against Pakistan at Headingley - which England won by 34 runs for a 3-0 series sweep - Lewis told Sky Sports: "It's the balance between forcing the game and playing really smart shots."
Asked how to find that balance Wyatt, a veteran of 266 international games, indicated that she leaned heavily on experience. "It's just about making smart decisions and not being reckless. For me, I play my best when I'm showing intent but I do it in a calm and relaxing way.
"Obviously you want to feel good going into games, but most of it is up here [tapping her temple]. I've got a lot of experience. I've had ups and downs most of my career and every batter will say there's always a score around the corner and cricket is a brutal game, you've just got to keep going and back yourself."
Wyatt believes her first century in the format - during the 2017 Ashes in Australia - was the innings that really got her batting going.
"I showed the world what I could do and I always knew I had that in me," Wyatt said. "People forget I was actually a bowler the first half of my career. I used to open the bowling, which I really enjoyed, and then started to get lower-back trouble and my bowling just went downhill. Then my batting was overtaking. So I always knew deep down I was actually more of a batter. But I used to be a pinch hitter and I knew deep down I was a better batter than a pinch hitter."
She also revealed that while in the 70s she allowed herself to think about scoring her third T20I century, although she was at pains to point out that it hadn't cost her wicket. Had she done so, she would have become only the third woman to reach the milestone, after Fatuma Kibasu of Tanzania and UAE's Esha Oza. She is among eight players with two.
"I've been after that third T20 hundred for years," she said. "I just thought, 'I'm just going to keep going.' That was the easiest way to play on that pitch. Hopefully I'll get there one day."

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor, women's cricket, at ESPNcricinfo