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Feature

'About time' - Wyatt and Brunt give England a leg up with 'most complete performance'

"I took it right down to the bare bones of it and drilled a lot yesterday to try and be able to turn up today and make it as natural as possible," says Brunt

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
24-Mar-2022
About time. That was the overriding sentiment for Katherine Brunt and Danni Wyatt as they each played a key role in putting England into the World Cup top four with a commanding victory over Pakistan that largely followed the defending champions' script.
Brunt had taken just one wicket in five matches at this World Cup before her 3 for 17 from eight overs helped restrict Pakistan to 105 all out. Wyatt's unbeaten 76 off 68 balls then saw England home by nine wickets in the magic number of 19.2 overs, knowing that they needed to chase down 106 in 19.3 overs to edge ahead of India on net run rate and into fourth on the table.
Brunt, who turns 37 in July, set England off right when she had Nahida Khan caught at slip by Heather Knight off the first ball of the match, an expression of sheer relief spreading over her face as she looked to the sky, arms outstretched as if to say: "Yes! Finally!"
It was like a penny-dropping moment after some hard graft fixing "bad habits" she had slipped into during what will be three months on the road by the end of the World Cup.
Before the tournament, Brunt had been joint leading wicket-taker in the Ashes with 11 strikes, despite playing two fewer matches than Australia's Tahlia McGrath while managing a niggle she picked up during the series. But Brunt's form had deserted her in New Zealand.
Fortunately for Brunt and England, she was able to pinpoint the problem and felt she had gone a long way towards resolving it on the eve of their latest match, although she didn't want to divulge the technicalities.
"I've been struggling for a bit of form," Brunt said. "We've been on tour a long time, gaining 11 weeks away from home, and this is something I don't think any cricketer, female cricketer certainly, will ever have done and probably won't do in their career. So, you're figuring out how best to work things.
"Normally after a tour, you go home, you go back to the nets, you fix things. You have that bit of time before you go back on tour and we haven't had that. I got into bad habits and although I won't point out specifically what that technical thing was, I have spotted it - thankfully - there is something wrong.
"I worked really hard on it yesterday in the nets, I took it right down to the bare bones of it and drilled a lot yesterday to try and be able to turn up today and make it as natural as possible. So, I'm certainly going in the right direction."
The result was devastating for Pakistan, who - aside from Sidra Ameen's 32 - never really recovered, despite an impressive six-over spell from Diana Baig in which she took 1 for 14 and threatened briefly to derail England's pursuit of their run-rate target.
"It's been a while - longer than I'd like - for it to have gone on for but that's sport, in and out of form," Brunt said. "We've been away a long time, things can creep up on you that you don't necessarily intend to happen and it's just about training, working hard, putting things right, going out and doing it again. I'm just really happy to have contributed today.
"I'm a really competitive person and I want so badly to contribute to every game in any way... so when you're not, it genuinely feels rubbish. I do feel great about this day. It's a long, too long a time coming.
"That's our most complete performance. Nice to not have a nervy one for a change. Obviously, we went in to win but the secondary goal was to up our run rate a little bit, so I'm really pleased with how we've done today."
Heather Knight
"We have played on some brilliant backing tracks. It's been hard to not overly criticise myself in this situation. I'm sure a lot of the seam bowlers in this tournament will have done that."
Wyatt, meanwhile, had only reached double figures three times in eight ODI innings this year before this match, her 33 batting at No. 7 against West Indies - her best during that time and coming before she was promoted to replace opener Lauren Winfield-Hill.
Upon scoring her first half-century at a World Cup in 17 innings, Wyatt's sentiments were similar to Brunt's. "It's about time really," Wyatt told the host broadcaster as she accepted her Player-of-the-Match award.
"I'm really pleased with how it went today, but credit to the bowlers," Wyatt added. "Katherine Brunt, big shout out to her, she's come back and bowled her heart out today, so I'm really pleased for Brunty, and hopefully, we can get another win against Bangladesh."
If England beat Bangladesh on Sunday, they will qualify regardless of other results, but whether they finish third or fourth will depend on the result - and margin - of India's match against South Africa. However, if Bangladesh upset England and if India beat South Africa, then England will be knocked out.
Knight, England's captain, felt her side was heading in the right direction after losing their first three games and overcoming some tense moments in wins against India and, particularly, New Zealand.
"That's our most complete performance," Knight said. "Nice to not have a nervy one for a change. Obviously, we went in to win but the secondary goal was to up our run rate a little bit, so I'm really pleased with how we've done today.
"Katherine, I was so pleased for her because she's had a little bit of a tough tournament so far but to see her come back to her best was brilliant."

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo