The first women’s match to be shown on free-to-air television in England since the 1993 World Cup final culminated in the home side winning by 20 runs, after posting 154 for six – sealing a series win with two matches to play.
England had clearly planned for an all-guns-blazing performance, and they found their woman in Nat Sciver, who blasted 82 from 61 balls, her highest score in the format, including 17 off the penultimate over of England’s innings.
“It’s been a good day,” Sciver said. “Being on free-to-air TV doesn’t come round that often. It was important for us to be ruthless and make sure that we were on it in all skillsets. We were very happy to get over the line.”
The win came after the ECB chief executive, Tom Harrison, speaking to promote WomensCricketMonth, had earlier re-emphasised their commitment to the women’s game – labelling 2020 “a net positive” for women’s cricket despite the disruptions caused by Covid. “It is a really, really tough moment but this part of the game is fundamental to our future,” he said.
West Indies looked on course for the first 10 overs of their chase, with Deandra Dottin and Hayley Matthews adding 48 for the third wicket, after a change in the line-up saw Matthews demoted to No. 4.
But when Sarah Glenn (two for 18) trapped Matthews leg-before in the 13th, it sparked something of a collapse – Dottin eventually holing out in the deep four overs later against Katherine Brunt, after pounding 63 from 56 balls.
West Indies had given England a scare early on, leaving them reeling at 13 for two in the third over and able to muster only 33-2 across the first six overs - their lowest powerplay total since their loss to South Africa in the opening round of the T20 World Cup. The visitors appeared to be in the ascendancy but that calculation bargained without Sciver, who recognised that batting sensibly and rotating the strike would allow her to bring the necessary fireworks at the end. Though England hit just five boundaries between overs seven and 15, Sciver was able to steadily advance the score, sharing half-century partnerships with Heather Knight (29) and Fran Wilson (16no), before a spell of big-hitting from the No 3 allowed England to add 38 runs from the last three overs. That included the only six of the innings, launched over long-on.
“The first two games I was going a bit too big too early,” Sciver said. “I had a chat with Heather [Knight] and some of the coaches about what I wanted to do today and it came off.”
While Stafanie Taylor rotated her bowlers at regular intervals, using eight in total, none could dislodge Sciver until the final over when Dottin bowled her as the batter attempted a ramp. It proved too little, too late for the tourists.