Jenny Gunn takes 4 for 23 in 13-run win over India Women
There’s a question often bandied about in cricket chat when discussing the reliability of batsmen; which player would you choose to bat for your life?
While life-or-death consequences are thankfully never a reality in the game, Charlotte Edwards’ consistency for England Women in the face of pressure situations is remarkable.
Time and again the England captain is called on to deliver for her side and, although the most recent ICC Women's World Twenty20 and ICC Women's World Cup have slipped through her grasp, she shoulders the responsibility with admirable determination and self-belief.
Earlier this year in Hobart, Edwards blasted an unbeaten 92 in the first of three Twenty 20 Internationals to secure victory over Australia Women in the Women’s Ashes.
And in Scarborough on Saturday (August 24), the captain was the anchor once more, facing the first and last deliveries of England’s innings and, in between, scoring a record-breaking century that comprised more than half of her side’s total runs.
The unbeaten 108 Edwards hit was later complemented by Jenny Gunn’s 4 for 23 in 10 overs, as England’s 214 for 9 proved to be 13 too many for India Women, with the visiting side bowled out for 201 in 48.4 overs. The win gave England an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match One-Day International series.
“It did mean a lot,” said Edwards. “I had to work really hard for my first 20 runs. It reminded me a lot of my innings in the World Cup in India when we were under pressure and I didn’t start particularly well.
“I had experiences of that in my head and just kept telling myself to bat through and you’ll come good in the end. I was delighted to get another international hundred as they don’t come around very often and it was a fitting place to get it as this was my second one here.”
Edwards now has a record nine ODI centuries, and her runs at North Marine Road proved to be the difference between the two sides.
In fact, as England celebrates its series victory against India, it may be worth asking who will take up the mantle when Edwards eventually retires, such is her importance to the side.
Gunn is arguably the other player England most often turn to and the allrounder’s figures of 4 for 23, not to mention two outstanding catches, were vital as the plucky Indian tail came within 13 runs of snatching victory in the final tense overs.
“She’s always the person I turn to with the ball, and they’re the kind of magical things she does in the field as well,” said Edwards. “We call her hands ‘massive mitts’ and she catches things I could only dream of doing.
“She’s 28, hopefully she’s in the prime of her life and we’re going to get two-three good years out of Jenny Gunn at international level. I’ve backed her all the way and she’s been a fantastic servant to English cricket.”
Jhulan Goswami and Nagarajan Niranjana had given their side an outstanding start after Mithali Raj won the toss, virtually suffocating Edwards and Heather Knight.
In the first ODI, two days earlier, Edwards and Knight had piled on 110 runs in a commanding opening partnership. But against an improved India attack, England’s openers could only manage 26 runs in the first ten overs.
Goswami, in particular, was outstanding, the lanky veteran generating pace and steep bounce as she bowled a consistently nagging line outside off stump.
“That was one of the best opening spells I've ever faced from an opening bowl in terms of the lengths she was hitting and the bounce she was getting as well,” Edwards said. “It was tough and although we want to get off to quicker starts you have to sometimes appreciate that bowlers are going to bowl in good areas.”
The England openers were tentative while running between the wickets and, after surviving two near run-outs, Knight was caught short, scrambling through for a single too slowly for the sharp aim of Shikha Pandey, who scored a direct hit from mid-on.
Sarah Taylor’s arrival at the crease accelerated the run-rate and England was settling but, just after Taylor and Edwards notched their fifty partnership, the wicketkeeper botched an attempted sweep shot off Rajeshwari Gayakwad and watched as the ball looped over her shoulder and clattered into the base of the stumps.
Taylor’s departure, followed by Lauren Winfield, put the brakes on England once more and, when Goswami was brought back into the attack for the powerplay, the impact was immediate.
After extracting bounce and outswing in her first spell, Goswami expertly employed the fuller ball to trap Lydia Greenway and Tammy Beaumont leg-before in consecutive deliveries.
From there only Natalie Sciver managed double figures and it was left to Edwards to shoulder the responsibility. She did so superbly, dispatching the ball both sides of the wicket and crossing the boundary rope eleven times, as she dragged England past the 200 mark.
The only question was whether or not she would run out of batting partners before she could reach her century.
The tail proved to be just durable enough – although there was a nervous moment when Kate Cross had to survive the last ball of the over to put Edwards on strike – and, when the captain brought up the milestone with an imperious cut shot to the boundary, she threw both arms in the air with evident delight.
“I will let you into a secret,” said Edwards. “I told Crossy I'd buy her dinner if she stopped the ball when I was on 99. So I owe Kate Cross dinner!”
India’s chase started promisingly, with the elegant Smriti Mandhana continuing to impress with her fluid style and classic drives.
The 18-year-old was dropped by Greenway, fielding at point, when she was on 15 but failed to cash in, scoring another 17 runs before playing an almost identical shot that Greenway took cleanly.
After leading her side to victory in the one-off Test, Raj was always going to be the key scalp for England, and the India captain batted with customary calm alongside Harmanpreet Kaur until she was undone by Knight’s gentle offspin.
Kaur steered India’s chase and, aided by aggressive cameos from Vellaswamy Vanitha and Goswami, seemed to have brought the target into reach.
But a stunning catch from Gunn on the long-on boundary rope off the bowling of Shrubsole sent Kaur back to the pavilion and, despite some spirited lower-order hitting by Ekta Bisht in the final overs, the total remained tantalisingly out of reach for India.
But while the series is now England’s, India still has much to play for in the final ODI at Lord’s on Monday, with valuable points still on offer in the ICC Women’s Championship.