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Feature

Katherine Sciver-Brunt: Worcester heroics and leading the way at Lord's

We look back at six of the retiring England allrounder's standout performances

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
05-May-2023
Katherine Brunt acknowledges her five-wicket haul, Australia vs England, Only Test, Women's Ashes, Canberra, January 28, 2022

Katherine Brunt claimed a five-wicket haul in her final Test  •  Getty Images

Following the announcement of Katherine Sciver-Brunt's retirement from international cricket, we take a look back at some of her most memorable moments in an England shirt - from a starring role in her first Ashes appearance to two World Cup triumphs almost a decade apart.
Katherine Brunt, as she was then known, made her Test debut as a 19-year-old in August 2004, in a rain-affected draw against New Zealand. However, she truly announced her arrival the following summer when, at Worcester in August 2005, she claimed career-best match figures of 9 for 111 - and top-scored with a vital 52 from No. 10 - as England beat Australia in the second Test to claim their first outright Ashes victory in 42 years. The victory came at the absolute height of Ashes fever, with the men in the process of making Australia follow-on at Trent Bridge, en route to their own series-sealing win, and the triumphant women duly took their place in the famous victory parade to Trafalgar Square the following month.
Sciver-Brunt's combative approach, allied to a rare turn of pace, made an early impact in the shortest format too. She didn't quite manage to feature in the world's first T20 international (male or female) - New Zealand's nine-run win at Hove in August 2004 came a fortnight before her Test bow. But she was right in the thick of things for the second women's T20I the following summer. Defending a seemingly stiff target of 152, she rumbled in with the new ball to reduce Australia to a ropey 6 for 3 in her first two overs, only for Karen Rolton - with an astonishing 96 not out from 53 balls - to turn the match on its head in an unbroken stand of 147 with Kate Blackwell (43 not out from 38).
The sense that England's women, now under the leadership of Charlotte Edwards, were on an upward trajectory would be confirmed at North Sydney Oval in March 2009 when they overcame New Zealand in a tense final to win their third World Cup title, and their first since 1993. Sciver-Brunt played a key role throughout the campaign, but her biggest impact of the year would be reserved for the biggest stage that the women's game had yet featured on. Only ten years had elapsed since the first female members had been admitted to MCC, and now England lifted the World T20 trophy in front of a rapt crowd, as part of a double-header with the men's final (in which Pakistan beat Sri Lanka). Sciver-Brunt's share of the glory was a Player-of-the-Match-winning spell of 4-2-6-3, all served up while sporting an impressible black eye that added to her menacing profile. Her first wicket was her most crucial. Aimee Watkins had crushed India in the semi-final with 89 not out from 58 balls; now she was yorked by an inswinger for 2. In all, she conceded just three scoring shots in her entire spell, and the pressure caused New Zealand to crack. Lucy Doolan attempted a scoop and was caught behind, before Rachel Priest swung across a bouncer to be caught and bowled on the crease.
Success in India is a badge of honour for any self-respecting fast bowler, and in her second appearance on the subcontinent, Sciver-Brunt produced a performance for the ages to square an eagerly-fought five-match ODI series. She'd already played a priceless role with the bat, smashing 21 not out from 11 balls from No. 9 to back up Jenny Gunn's hard-fought 64 and set India a middling target of 181. But then, reverting to her primary role, she clattered into the breach with four wickets in her first four overs, plus a share in a fifth when Thirush Kamini, who had injured herself in the field, was forced to retire hurt after ducking a short ball. Remarkably, India battled back, thanks to Mithali Raj's determined 91 not out. But Brunt returned at the death to complete her career-best five-for, and help England close out a tense three-run win.
By her own high standards, Sciver-Brunt had a quiet tournament in 2017, when England won the third and most celebrated of her three global trophies - just five wickets at 50.60 all told, fewer than her new-ball partner Anya Shrubsole claimed in that stunning victory over India in the final at Lord's. And yet, when the going was at its toughest against Australia - the one opponent that all sides feared above all others - KSB came to the party in grand fashion. Her first act, as so often, came with the bat, a bristling knock of 45 not out from 43 balls that revived a stuttering scoreline of 174 for 6 to post a competitive target of 260. Then, with the match in the balance going into the final four overs, Sciver-Brunt struck twice on her return to the attack, trimming Alex Blackwell's bails before the linchpin Ellyse Perry miscued a slower ball to midwicket. Australia being Australia, they refused to give in, but England's priceless three-run win propelled them back to the top of the standings, and guarded against an awkward rematch in the semi-final.
At the age of 36, Sciver-Brunt went into her final Ashes campaign with the same tenacity with which she had seized her first, and at Canberra in January 2022, she so nearly made the difference in one of the greatest women's Tests ever played. Her first-innings haul of 5 for 60 kept England in the game after a spate of dropped catches had allowed Rachael Haynes and Meg Lanning to post a competitive 337 for 9 declared, but then, after Heather Knight's formidable 168 had rendered the contest a one-innings shoot-out, Sciver-Brunt's fiery new-ball burst ripped the contest wide open going into the tense final day. In the end, England's target of 257 would prove tantalisingly out of reach, as Kate Cross blocked out for the draw with nine wickets down and just 13 runs needed for the win.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket