Match Analysis

Capsey, the teenager thriving at No. 3 for England

Seventeen-year old who hit a match-winning, 36-ball fifty against South Africa says she's just "kind of doing my thing"

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
We all long, at some point, for our childhood days when fear was an alien concept and we dived into whatever we were doing with no inhibitions.
So it's impossible not to feel a pang of envy watching Alice Capsey bat with all the courage in the world to set the foundation for yet another England victory over South Africa which put the host nation on the cusp of the Commonwealth Games knockout stages in Birmingham.
A savage-looking black eye suffered moments before England's first-up victory over Sri Lanka? Worse than it looks, apparently. Facing the fire and pace of Shabnim Ismail? No problem, just walk down the pitch to her. A half-century in your third international innings? Child's play.
Capsey's seamless transition to the senior ranks could not have come at a better time with Heather Knight, the England captain, yet to make an appearance at the Commonwealth Games because of a hip injury that has her in doubt for the final group game against New Zealand on Thursday.
Acting captain Nat Sciver said after England's 26-run victory over South Africa at Edgbaston that Knight had undergone further scans on the injury she suffered during the first T20I between the sides during their bilateral series on July 21.
"She's not in a good place," Sciver said. "She's better than she has been in the last few days, still in a bit of pain with her hip.
"It's probably going to be a bit quick to play against New Zealand. She went and saw our team doctor and had another scan. She's waiting on the results of that."
Capsey, meanwhile, reached her maiden international half-century in 36 deliveries on Tuesday and then fell on the next ball she faced, spooning a return catch Nonkululeko Mlaba.
Hers was the second of three England wickets to fall for five runs in the space of nine balls as they slumped to 94 for 5. But then an unbroken 73-run partnership off just 43 balls from the vastly experienced Katherine Brunt and Amy Jones set South Africa a target of 168 before England's bowlers restricted them to 141 for 4. It was England's seventh victory over South Africa in a white-ball match this summer.
"It just ticks off a landmark, doesn't it?" Capsey said of her fifty. "But in the game, it's not really about that, it was more just setting myself a platform to try and push on for the team, which unfortunately, I didn't.
"But you saw the brilliance of Jonesy and Katherine coming in at the end and putting on a real show for the crowd, which was amazing to watch."
Capsey, who wasn't required to bat in her debut match, England's second T20I against South Africa in Worcester, got her chance in the third match of that series in Derby and smashed four consecutive fours on her way to 25 off 17.
After passing a fitness test in the immediate aftermath of copping a ball to the face during the warm-up for England's Commonwealth Games opener against Sri Lanka, she scored 44 at just over a run-a-ball to top score in a five-wicket victory.
While she said her vision had been impaired somewhat during that knock as her eye swelled up while she was batting, Capsey said she didn't feel any other ill effects and, by the time Tuesday's match rolled round, it looked worse than it felt on account of the bruise coming out.
"Everyone kind of expected some concussion symptoms to start to grow over the next couple of days, however I've been absolutely fine which for me, that's perfect, it's allowing me still to play and kind of do my thing," Capsey said.
"I've felt in really good touch, especially coming into the South Africa series as well, so it [reaching fifty] was a real positive for me and I've really enjoyed the role that they've given me.
"I feel quite comfortable and I know what I'm doing, it's great to come into the team and for them to trust me with that role."
In Derby, Sciver had told Capsey she would come in at No. 3 if an early wicket fell. As it happened, opener Sophia Dunkley was out for a first-ball duck and Capsey has held her place since.
This time, Ismail, Capsey's Hundred team-mate at Oval Invincibles, removed Dunkley for 1 with her first delivery, an excellent yorker on the seventh ball of the match. When Ismail returned in the sixth over, she had Dunkley's opening partner, Danni Wyatt, caught behind by Sinalo Jafta for 27 from 20 balls.
Her next delivery was back-of-a-length and steered through third by Sciver for a single before she unleashed a short ball which Capsey failed to connect with as she attempted to pull. Then, as calm as you like, Capsey advanced on the next one and dispatched it over cover to the boundary.
"Me and Shabs are are good mates so it was a bit of a cat and mouse that over," Capsey said. "It's the adrenaline, I think, for me, also being smart with my options.
"She bowled a bouncer so you kind of can guess what's coming. But it's just about being brave and I think that's kind of the message that we really got from the coaching staff and Nat and Heather."
As for being part of a bigger, multi-sport event where women's cricket is making its Commonwealth games debut, Capsey was all about soaking up he experience.
"My family's come to every game, which has been lovely," she said. "For me, it's just about taking everything in, really enjoying it. It's such a rare occasion that you've just got to make the memories."

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo