Matches (21)
IPL (2)
Pakistan vs New Zealand (1)
PAK v WI [W] (1)
WI 4-Day (4)
County DIV1 (5)
County DIV2 (4)
ACC Premier Cup (2)
Women's QUAD (2)
Feature

Consistent Cross continues to fly under the radar

Being an integral part of England's bowling attack, she has five wickets this World Cup so far

S Sudarshanan
S Sudarshanan
23-Mar-2022
"I've always said that sometimes I get the boring, rubbish jobs where you're bowling into the wind or up the hill and kind of have a holding role that creates pressure at the other end"  •  Getty Images

"I've always said that sometimes I get the boring, rubbish jobs where you're bowling into the wind or up the hill and kind of have a holding role that creates pressure at the other end"  •  Getty Images

Consistency often hides more than it shows. It is overshadowed by more heroic performances in sports and comes into the spotlight only when the bigger picture is looked at.
Kate Cross has 27 wickets in ODIs since July 2020. It is the fifth-most in the period, most for England. But Cross isn't one of the first names oppositions will specifically plan for with the more illustrious Katherine Brunt, Anya Shrubsole and Sophie Ecclestone grabbing the limelight.
And "Mrs Consistent" - a moniker given by England captain Heather Knight - has only benefitted by flying under the radar.
In England's last game, Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates had helped New Zealand race to 44 for 0 in the first seven overs, with Brunt and Shrubsole both struggling to find their lines and lengths in windy Auckland. Cross was summoned as first-change and she struck in her third over to break the 61-run opening stand by removing Bates.
"I have quite a simple game plan in any situation, really. And today I knew that if I could just keep it simple and try and dot them up then it might force an error, which it did with Suzie Bates," Cross said after England all but ended New Zealand's World Cup campaign.
"It was absolutely putrid out there. If I'm being completely honest, it was a really difficult spell to bowl from that end. So sometimes when it is like that, and it's that windy, it almost makes me just think about one thing and keep it strong in my action. And if I'm doing that, then you know the result will come because sometimes you can get a bit caught up with what's going on at the other end, especially when Suzie bats. It can feel quite chaotic."
After a six-over spell at the start, Cross returned towards the closing stages to dismiss Katey Martin and Devine, who had returned to bat after retiring earlier due to a sore back, in successive overs to finish with an impressive 3 for 35 in her ten overs.
"England get their breakthrough via Kate Cross," is a phrase that was often used in the past year. Against the touring New Zealand side in the second ODI in Worcester, she picked up the first wicket immediately - of Bates again - after being brought on as first-change, and dismissed Lauren Down and Amy Satterthwaite as well to help England defend a low 197.
Earlier in the summer, Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma had help India gallop in the second ODI in Taunton, when Cross had Mandhana playing on to trigger a collapse. The seamer was the fourth bowler Knight had turned to on that occasion, and she went on to finish with 5 for 34.
"I've always said that sometimes I get the boring, rubbish jobs where you're bowling into the wind or up the hill and kind of have a holding role that creates pressure at the other end," Cross had said after picking up her second five-wicket haul that jolted India. "So it was nice to pick some up myself today."
Cross' five-for was also adjudged the best bowling performance of the year in the ESPNcricinfo Awards; it could have well been for turning up and bowling tough spells and churning up wickets every single time.
Since the start of 2021, there have been 24 partnerships of 50 or more against England in ODIs, two of which were unconquered ones. Cross broke five such stands out of the remaining 22, the most for England in the period. Charlie Dean with four such breakthroughs is the next best.
Cross was not part of England's victorious World Cup campaign in 2017 due to a mental-health hiatus. When she suffered torn ligaments in her right ankle after landing awkwardly on the boundary ropes while attempting a catch during the warm-up ahead of the match against West Indies in the 2020 T20 World Cup, she feared that she would miss the bus for the 2022 ODI World Cup as well, originally scheduled in February 2021.
Having made the cut and being an integral part of England's bowling attack, Cross has five wickets to show so far this World Cup, the most for an English seamer, and has made more impact than Brunt and Shrubsole so far. Although "it's quite exciting but tiring" in her words, she would perhaps not have it any other way.
And with consistency as her ally, Cross could be the shining armour for Knight.

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo