Sunday, February 25

Australia power to Women’s Cricket World Cup final win over England | Women’s Cricket World Cup

So there we have it. On a sunny April Sunday at Christchurch, Meg Lanning’s Australia were formally named the best ODI team in the world, stealing the crown from reigning champions England by 71 runs. If we are honest, we already knew Australia were the best team in the world. It’s just that now, with the 20-over title, the Ashes and the 50-over World Cup all sitting pretty in their trophy cabinet, they have finally made it official.

This tournament, with its sea of ​​final-over finishes, called for a competitive final, but Australia had not read that script. Their version was to pile on the runs first up, making a mockery of Heather Knight’s decision to bowl first. Australia had 160 up before England managed to make a single breakthrough – the highest partnership for any wicket, ever, in a World Cup final – and 316 before the next one came.

With 356 runs on the board at the innings break, England might as well have got on the plane then and there, although an unbeaten 148 from Nat Sciver in the run chase did at least give them something to cheer about as they watched the fruits of their 2017 victory slip through their fingers.

As for Alyssa Healy’s innings – 170 off 138 balls, including 26 boundaries – what can you say? England had kept her relatively quiet for the first ten, but when she danced down the track and lofted Charlie Dean for four over mid-on in the 12th over, it set the scene for what was to follow: not just the highest individual innings in any World Cup final (women’s or men’s), but the most audacious one too.

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Runs came thick and fast, all around the ground – Katherine Brunt’s short balls were pulled ferociously, Dean was driven out of the attack, and tournament leading wicket-taker Sophie Ecclestone went for 71 across her 10 overs. Healy reached her ton in the 35th over and from there, all bets were off as she added another 70 runs in just 38 deliveries. All the while England had to deal with the knowledge that Nat Sciver had put the opener down at midwicket on 41 – an error that cost them 129 runs.

Nat Sciver struck 148 unbeaten runs in England’s reply, but it was not enough. Photograph: Phil Walter/ICC/Getty Images

Rachael Haynes (68 off 93) was her early partner in crime, hitting her fourth fifty-plus score of the tournament after she, too, enjoyed a let-off by England, put down at backward point by Danni Wyatt on 47. England finally had her caught at the same position in the 30th over, but by then, with a 160-run platform in place, the No 3 Beth Mooney (62 off 47) could afford to throw her bat at the ball in complete abandon – her own 156-run partnership with Healy taking just 98 balls to rack up.

This was meant to be one-day international cricket but as Healy and Mooney smashed boundary after boundary there were echoes of March 2020, when the pair annihilated India in the T20 version of this event. Between the 41st and the 45th overs, the England bowlers were punished for an average of 16 runs an over.

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Australia could have added yet more to their mammoth total had it not been for some wily death bowling by Anya Shrubsole (three for 46), who took pace off the ball to have Healy stumped, just when she looked on course for a double-hundred . Three balls later, Shrubsole removed the bails to run out Ash Gardner, dashing back for a second run after Mooney chanced Kate Cross’s arm at long-on. In her next over Shrubsole took two-in-two, having Lanning caught before Sciver held on in the deep as Mooney finally departed.

Shrubsole had famously been England’s heroine in the 2017 final with a cluster of wickets at the back end; this time around the achievement amounted to damage limitation. In reply, England refused to surrender their title without a fight: Tammy Beaumont, Knight, Amy Jones and Sophia Dunkley all got into the twenties.

Even when the holders were eight wickets down after 34 overs, a 65-run partnership between Sciver and Dean off just 53 balls gave a glimmer of hope. But Australia made regular inroads: Megan Schutt’s opening spell, littered with dramatic in-swing, had Danni Wyatt bowled and Beaumont lbw in the powerplay, while Alana King’s leg-spin yielded three wickets for 64.

King could easily have had another – Sciver was handed a reprieve by DRS on 23, with ball-tracking showing the spinner’s delivery was just missing the stumps. Instead, Sciver slammed her for the only six of the match over deep midwicket before progressing patiently on to her second century of the tournament, even as her partners de ella came and went at the other end.

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Shrubsole was the last to go, holing out to mid-off in the 44th to hand Jess Jonassen not just her third wicket of the day, but a World Cup winners’ medal to go with it after Australia’s ninth win from nine matches in this tournament .

On any other day, against any other opposition, an innings like Sciver’s and a run chase of 285 inside 44 overs would have won England the game. But this is Lanning’s Australia, and even England’s best simply could not quite cut it.

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