Australian captain says she is satisfied with the performance of her batters but would like at least one of them to kick on and get a big score in the ICC Women's World Twenty20 final
It wasn’t as comfortable as England’s victory against New Zealand in the first semi-final, but Australia had enough in reserve as it eased to a 28-run win over West Indies to set up a final meeting between the defending champion and the tournament favourite.
Jodie Fields’s unbeaten 19 helped Australia push past 110 – New Zealand managed just 93 on Thursday – and the bowlers struck early enough and often enough to ensure that West Indies’ chase never gathered any momentum. “It would have been nice to get more runs, around 140,” said Fields, the Australia captain. “But we bowled very well and I’m happy that we were able to restrict them.
“The West Indies girls bowled really well in those conditions. Their spinners slowed it right up and made it difficult to score down the ground. You had to resort to shots square of the wicket. I thought we did well to get to 115 after a pretty disastrous start.”
Six Australians reached double figures, but Lisa Sthalekar’s 23 was the highest score. When asked about the inability to kick on and make game-changing contributions, Fields didn’t appear unduly concerned. “I’m actually pretty happy with our batting throughout the tournament,” she said. “While we haven’t had anyone with big scores, we’ve always had guys come in and keep the scoreboard ticking over. We’ll see what happens in the final. Hopefully, one of those girls will click and we’ll get a big score.”
Australia won the title in 2010, but is rated behind England in the final. England, after all, has won each of its four matches so far. “Everyone’s been talking about how England is favourite, but at the end of the day, Australia’s the defending champion,” said Fields. “We’re going to go out there and play the best game that we’ve got.
“The conditions here are slightly different to Galle. I think it was much more advantageous for the seamers in Galle. It came on to the bat much more quickly. Here, it favours the spinners, but Ellyse [Perry] proved today that if you bowl the right areas, you can certainly pick up wickets.”
Perry dismissed Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin cheaply to help fashion the win, and was rewarded for attacking the stumps rather than trying to contain. “In the early part of the innings, I couldn’t afford to give too much width,” said Perry, the Player of the Match. “They’re really good at freeing their arms and hitting the ball hard. Someone like Stafanie, who’s very strong and a powerful hitter, it’s difficult to restrict her if you give width. I suppose it was a conscious decision to bowl those lines. The way Lisa bowled in those few overs and how tight she was gave me the leeway to attack the stumps more and be more aggressive.”
Sthalekar’s four overs cost just six and Perry returned to bowl her final over for just two runs. “The way that we bowled throughout that middle patch was pretty fantastic, especially Jess Jonassen with her left-arm spin,” said Perry. “We were very conscious that West Indies, with their style of play, were going to get away at different points of time. In Twenty20 cricket, you just have to absorb that and keep going.”
The challenge in the final will be to contain an English line-up that boasts some of the most devastating shot-makers in the women’s game. Sarah Taylor starred in the first-round win against Australia, and Perry admitted that Australia needed to improve on that performance.
“Sarah’s a quality player, an exceptional player,” she said. “We all found it difficult to bowl to her. Looking back at that game, we didn’t do things, with the ball and in the field, as well as we would have liked to. It’s going to be a huge challenge on Sunday but the way we bowled today was really pleasing and it gives us a lot of confidence.”
Fields saw it slightly differently. “We dominated 80% of that match but lost our way the last eight overs,” she said. “You can’t do that against great sides like England. If we bowl well, field well and bat well, it gives us a good chance.”
“Simple!” piped up Perry, with a big grin on her face.
Prior to the 2010 final, Australia had endured a lengthy losing streak against New Zealand in Twenty20 cricket. Perry took 3-18 that day as Australia edged home by three runs. If she bowls as well as she did on Friday, you’d have to be foolish to write off Australia’s chances on Sunday.