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Top of the world

• Posted in Cricket • By JoeBaker

It will be a surprise if we see greater sporting drama this summer than what a sold-out Lords witnessed during the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup Final between England and India. With 7 overs remaining, India required just 38 runs to win with 6 wickets in hand, yet in a stunning period of play the game was turned on its head, with England pulling off a remarkable comeback to win their fourth title by 9 runs. It was a fitting finale for undoubtedly the best women’s World Cup yet, with a global TV audience way in excess of 50 million tuning in to watch the tournament.

The plaudits have rightly been heading the way of this talented group of players. They were ultimately deserving winners after recovering from an opening match defeat to India by going on an impressive eight game winning streak, culminating in an unlikely victory after their opponents were seemingly cruising to the trophy. This was of course a team effort. Nevertheless, there were several stand-out performers during the tournament worthy of their own recognition.

Tammy Beaumont

Put simply, England wouldn’t have got close to the trophy without the efforts of their magnificent 26-year-old batter. Her 410 runs made her the leading scorer and she was rightly named as player of the tournament. Unflappable at the crease and with a terrific range of strokes, especially when striking down the ground, Beaumont showed she is perhaps now the best opener in the women’s game. Along with Sarah Taylor she set the highest partnership in the history of women’s cricket during a group match against South Africa, involving a wonderful 148. Every top team needs a top opening batter. Fortunately for England, they have a world class one.

Anya Shrubsole

Often sporting finals are remembered for one bit of magic, or a period in which a player appears to take the game by the scruff of the neck and turn it in their sides favour. Step forward Anya Shrubsole, who’s spectacular spell of death bowling won the match for England and left India perplexed as to what had just happened. She took 6 for 46 at Lords, destroying the Indian tale by taking four wickets and even getting a run out. To bowl as she did at such a pivotal point of a match that was seemingly lost showed both immense skill and nerves of steel. It wasn’t just in the final where she was impressive though, with her accurate and consistent line and length bowling also securing another 6 wickets in the lead up to the final face-off with India. Shrubsole has now broken into the top 10 ODI bowlers in international cricket and is already top of the Twenty20 rankings – expect her to be near the top of the charts for a long while yet.

Heather Knight

Many worried about how England would cope after the retirement of their legendary captain Charlotte Edwards. Those short-term concerns were wiped away thanks to the efforts of their new leader Heather Knight, who was superb in captaining the side in her first World Cup as captain. Despite a disappointing visit to the crease in the final, her on-field management was immaculate, as shown by the inspired decision to bring Shrubsole back into the attack. An all-rounder already with the accolade of being the first female cricketer to score a fifty and to take a five-wicket haul in an ODI innings, her performance with the ball and bat was as impressive as her captaincy. She took 8 wickets over the course of the tournament and hit over 350 runs, including a century in the match against Pakistan in what was a record 3rd wicket partnership in a World Cup. Being able to lift the trophy topped off a truly special month.

Natalie Sciver

You know a player has had a good tournament with the bat when they’ve been part of the highest 3rd and 4th wicket partnerships in World Cup history. Natalie Sciver, who plays most of her club cricket for Melbourne Stars, was brilliantly consistent for her side. This included two centuries and a half century in the final that steadied the ship just as the English wickets were starting to tumble. She also became famous for pulling off the ‘Nat-meg’, a shot never seen before in the game involving playing Yorkers by skilfully diverting the ball between her own legs. With the third highest average of any batter in the tournament, and a highly useful 7 victims with the ball in hand, Sciver was without doubt one of the key players in this famous English triumph.

Sarah Taylor

In full flow, there are few better at the crease than Sarah Taylor, as she showed time and again during a fantastic World Cup. She ended up 4th in the batting charts, falling just short of 400 runs for the tournament. Her 147 against South Africa was one of the finest innings ever seen; fully of finesse, power and impeccable technique. As one of the world’s premier wicket keepers known for her lightening quick reactions behind the stumps, she was also a reassuring presence in the field. Her four catches and two stumpings showed that she was as reliable as ever when called upon. To say that Taylor was important in this victory would be an understatement. 

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