aussie women need runs

Nineteen off 21, 11 off 11, 23 off 25, 21 off 25 and 19 off 22. It’s a start for Australia, but not much more.

Meg Lanning, Jess Cameron, Lisa Sthalekar, Alex Blackwell and Jodie Fields all looked good at times, but none kicked on, in strike-rate or total. It was like they all had an invisible wall they would run into as they approached 25. It meant that the total of 115 was just within reach of West Indies, even without Stafanie Taylor or Deandra Dottin adding anything to the total.

It was the Australian bowlers, led by the miserly Sthalekar and the wicket-taking Perry, who made 115 look far more impressive than it was.

The important thing is the Aussies still won, and made the final. The worrying thing is that not a single Australian batsman has made a half-century in this tournament. In fact, the highest score is 42. Forty-two. It’s not what you expect to see of a team which has made it through to the final. It’s what you expect of a team that didn’t even qualify for the semis.

India, who didn’t qualify for the semis, have a 50 in this tournament from Poonam Raut.
Australia is clearly the second-best team in this tournament; West Indies and New Zealand both have good players, India has Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, and Sri Lanka, South Africa and Pakistan are a level below at this stage. But England just look far ahead.

England barely worked up a sweat while beating Australia and New Zealand easily in their last two games. When their batsmen get in, they make big fast scores, generally in match-winning partnerships. For some reason, the Australians are not doing that. It’s not like their batting line-up lacks talent. Lanning is a very good player, Cameron can smack the ball, Sthalekar is pure class, Blackwell holds the middle order together, Healy strikes well and Fields plays like Australian wicketkeepers have for decades. But you don’t win many finals with a run-a-ball 20-odd.

On a pitch with little spin, acting was slow and low, West Indies choked Australia with 10 overs of spin to start the match. It wasn’t a tactic especially to slow Australia, just something the Windies had been using all tournament, but Australia never really handled it well. There were some boundaries, and some singles, but not enough of either, and never a good combination of both.

The West Indies bowlers were all decent, and they worked well together, but Australia should have scored far more. Jodie Fields said they would have been happier with 140. They shouldn’t have lost as many wickets as they did. They should have worked the often-strange field placements of the West Indies. They should have just done better.

Australia have one last chance to get it right, but they won’t be playing the plucky West Indies side, they’ll be playing the most brutal and unforgiving team in world cricket. A team full of match-winners, who all know their roles, and who will expect to win the tournament they have dominated so far. They are talented, well schooled and the most professional team in women’s cricket. To beat them, you need to be at your very best. A succession of super-fast cameos might help you win. An epic innings often will.

Australia may be the reigning champions and these conditions might be different to Galle, but they will need to significantly improve on this performance to make the final a fair fight. Stacking up another pile of 20 odds won’t do it.

Result: Arisa Mohammad: One step into her run up, she leaps into their air with her arms touching the sky, then skins in, and bowls round arm finger spin off what appears to be from the wrong foot a mile back from the crease. Awesome.

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