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WWC17 - England v South
Africa - First Semi-Final
I doubt many arriving to watch the semi-final between England and
South Africa yesterday in Bristol expected the character of the match
to be as history can now attest. South Africa must have realistically
thought of themselves as the underdogs and no doubt the majority of
the crowd felt the same, simply hoping for no kind of upset.
South Africa, however, were not prepared to stick to the script.
Winning the toss and batting, Wolvaardt showed why she is becoming not
just one of the leading batsmen in South Africa but one of the best
batsmen in the sport worldwide. In an inning mature beyond her years
she steadied the South African cause as both Lee and Chetty fell
early. She was later to take a fine catch to dismiss the England
captain. illustrating not just her ability with bat in hand but,
despite her statement "I don't bowl" that she is a fine all-round
cricketer. When she finally departed in the 32nd over for 66 the
bedrock of a good total had been set. It had been her 4th 50+ score of
Laura Wolvaardt stars for South Africa with 66 while Lizelle Lee
(below) falls early
Lizelle Lee is bowled by England's Anya Shrubsole
Desite a valiant 76 from 95 balls from former skipper du Preez and a
cameo 27 from new captain van Niekerk, some too adventurous running
saw the end of two batsmen and du Preez was finally left high and dry
with the score on a mere 218. The early foundations had promised
Mignon du Preez provides the backbone of the innings with 76 from 95
I should add at this point that my sympathy goes out to South African
keeper Trisha Chetty. It became obvious she was feeling very unwell,
popping pills later in the match and even obliged to give up the
gloves for a few overs during England's innings. To battle ill-health
in such an important match shows both courage and character.
Throughout the South African innings it seemed the batsmen became frustrated when
tied down and instead of searching for the singles - and gaps,
particularly on the leg side, were often in evidence - seemed to look
for boundaries that tight bowling simply meant weren't there.
England's innings started no better than the South African one had
done with two batsmen falling early, but Sarah Taylor, showing once
again that she must surely be the finest bat in the women's game, came to the rescue with a characteristically stylish 54 from 76
balls. Once more a top-order batsman had steadied the ship. However,
instead of just one major contribution thereafter, the England batting
line-up made a number of valuable additions throughout without anyone
taking full command. Only Nat Sciver, bowled in quite amazing fashion
around her legs by Sune Luus when no leg stump appeared to be visible,
and Laura Marsh, failed to get to double figures.
Sarah Taylor's 54 provides the backbone of England's Innings
Lizelle Lee, while temporarily taking the gloves, manages to
avoid trampling Tammy Beaumont
Special mention must be made of birthday girl Ayabonga Khaka whose 2
for 28 off a full 10 overs was a fine achievement bowling against once
of the world's top batting sides, only one wide being given away in
Ayabonga Khaka represents South African on her 25th birthday.
As the tension rose towards the end and the question became who will
hold their nerve, a glance at the scoreboard told the story of why
South Africa didn't have this game in the bag at this stage. 25 extras
had been conceded (there were no leg-byes) while England had ceded
just 4. What a difference 21 runs might have made!
Laura Marsh is bowled by Shabnim Ismail
In the end, with just 2 balls to spare, it took the experienced head
of Anya Shrubsole to settle the matter with a blow to the boundary on
the first ball she faced. It was the answer of a consummate
Anya Shrubsole Strikes the Winning Runs
Anya Shrubsole and Jenny Gunn Celebrate the win
That there were tears from the South African captain in the Press
Conference that followed was not surprising. There were more in the
dressing room she confided, and it could hardly have been different.
South Africa had come so close to upsetting the established order. It
is this achievement that, in my opinion, means they can fly home with
heads held high. They put in a fine performance that day and, while
they may rue the 21 run deficit in extras, the team as a whole has
nothing to chide itself for. Playing beyond the general expectations
they pushed top of the table England to the very end, and so very
nearly over the cliff. It is a shame the organisers have not seen fit
to arrange a match between South Africa and the loser of the second
semi-final for a 3rd place. It would have provided cricket of the
While England continue to Lord's to meet either Australia or India, I
have no doubt South Africa will be back and I, for one, contemplate
with pleasure the thought of watching Wolvaardt, du Preez, van Niekerk
and company once again.
Some articles on the match:
A slide-show of pictures from this match is available