Matches (11)
WTC (1)
UAE v WI (1)
Continental Cup (1)
Vitality Blast (8)

Batting woes concern Heather Knight as England seek to seal series

New Zealand head to Derby with confidence after 30 wickets in series

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
Tammy Beaumont was among Lea Tahuhu's early victims  •  PA Images/Getty

Tammy Beaumont was among Lea Tahuhu's early victims  •  PA Images/Getty

England are searching for a quick turn-around in batting performance when they aim to seal their ODI series with New Zealand in the penultimate match on Thursday.
For the third game in a row, England were bowled out inside their 50 overs as New Zealand chased down a modest target of 179 to win the third game in Leicester by three wickets, and keep the series alive at 2-1 to England with fixtures in Derby and Canterbury remaining.
In the first ODI in Bristol, only four England batters reached double figures, including Player of the Match Heather Knight with 89 and Katherine Brunt's crucial 43 from No. 7.
At Worcester, it was Danni Wyatt, moving down the order to replace the resting Brunt, who rescued the match with an unbeaten 63 and a 51-run partnership with No. 11 Tash Farrant, who scored 22.
The hosts' ability to push their innings to a 49th over in Leicester relied heavily on Brunt again, who ended up stranded on 49 not out after a key partnership worth 53 with No. 10 Kate Cross, who scored a career-best 29 off 40.
"It wasn't a game we deserved to win, to be honest," Knight said. "Just short with the bat again. We showed real fight again, which is a great quality to have, fight with the bat to get us up to something that we could try and defend and then fight with the ball to take it that deep.
"As a top-order we were pretty disappointed in that dressing room not being able to put together a total. But we know the talent we've got in that batting line-up. We're going to have to find a way to turn it around quickly."
Knight's innings in Bristol aside, the top order have struggled to convert starts in this ODI series while middle-order batters Nat Sciver, who was rested in Leicester, Amy Jones and Sophia Dunkley haven't fired.
That the likes of Cross and Farrant have made valuable contributions is encouraging for England but it is concerning that they've had to.
"They've been desperate to work really hard on their batting," Knight said, "always bugging [head coach] Lisa [Keightley] to get more time batting in the nets.
"I'm really pleased for them. Obviously as a batting group we don't want to put them in that position too often, we want to score the majority of the runs.
"But they've handled the last two games, the situations they've been in, really well and shown they can contribute to the batting totals and show a bit of fight and a bit of ticker as well, which is really pleasing."
Brunt's efforts with the bat have supplemented her efforts leading the England attack. In Bristol, she was pivotal in stamping out the White Ferns' run-chase before it got going by opening with four maidens on the trot, and in Leicester her 4 for 22 off 10 overs put the nerves into New Zealand and made them work hard for victory.
That they got there, came down to Maddy Green's patient 70 not out, her second-highest score in 40 ODIs. Lea Tahuhu - who had taken a career-best 5 for 37 to keep a lid on the target - hit the winning runs with a six in a bright cameo of 19 off 15 balls.
"Our bowlers have been going exceptionally well and bowling a side out three times in a row is no mean feat so we've talked about, as a batting unit, someone taking the initiative in the top order and putting partnerships together," Green said.
"We've made some really good strides over this winter, we've been working really hard and it's nice to see it come off with a win. But in saying that, it's still 2-1 down, all to play for on Thursday and in the final game hopefully."
The match went ahead after a security scare involving a threat relating to New Zealand Cricket the previous day.
"Everyone was pretty calm," Green said. "We were just waiting around for the experts to make their assessments and that's what they're there to do.
"We're really confident in the security team that the ECB have around us and New Zealand Cricket, and we're all happy and comfortable to keep moving forward and we're grateful for everyone running around us and supporting us."
Knight said her side delayed their departure for Leicester following the Worcester game while the threat was investigated but said the disruption was minimal. "It was just a case of an email had been sent that had to be looked into properly and I think it's reassuring that was the case," Knight said.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo