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West Indies really took the game on, concedes Lanning

Matthew Mott points to last over of Australian innings and losing key moments as reasons for his team’s defeat in World T20 final

05 April 2016 10:44

Matthew Mott, the coach of the Australia Women team, called the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 2016 final at Eden Gardens on Sunday (April 3) “a great advertisement for women’s cricket”. In truth, though, his team was well beaten, with a 120-run opening partnership between Hayley Matthews (66) and Stafanie Taylor (59) ensuring that West Indies Women were never under any real pressure.

“We would have liked to get 160, and we put ourselves in a position to do that,” said Mott, who played a decade of first-class cricket for Queensland and Victoria. “To be honest, it was a pretty comfortable chase in the end. We scrambled and did pretty well to make a game of it, but I thought they batted exceptionally well tonight.”

Going into the final over of their innings, Australia were 147 for 3, with Ellyse Perry well set on 28. But Deandra Dottin, who had gone for 32 in her first three overs, produced a sequence of six deliveries to remember. After three dot balls, Perry was trapped in front. Erin Osborne was run out, and Alex Blackwell could only manage a single off the final ball.

“It was certainly a pivotal moment, I guess,” said Meg Lanning, Australia’s captain, who scored 52 off 49 balls to give her team a perfect launchpad. “I think we needed 160-plus on that wicket, and we certainly set ourselves up to get to that mark.

“We just slowed a little bit towards the end, including that final over. That probably gave West Indies a little bit of momentum heading into their batting innings. It was disappointing, I guess, not to finish off the batting innings because we had such a good start.”

Most of that early impetus had come from Elyse Villani, who swept and pulled her way to 52 from just 37 balls. Dropped earlier in the season, Villani returned to the squad in New Zealand a month ago, and had scores of 53 not out (Sri Lanka), 43 (Ireland), and 19 (England) heading into this final.

“She’s been a real inspiration for a lot of the girls in our group,” said Mott. “She definitely was struggling at various times. She didn’t have a great WBBL (Women’s Big Bash League). We left her out with a heavy heart. We knew she was a good player but she needed to go back and find her game.

“She spent a lot of time working back in WA (Western Australia), and reinventing herself, getting that freedom that you saw today. Before that, she was stifled a little bit – just her mental approach to the game. She’s done some things away from the field that have put her in a really good headspace and you could see that throughout this tournament. Really remarkable turnaround, and great for our batting unit going forward.”

Both the West Indies openers played in the WBBL – Taylor for Sydney Thunder, and Matthews for Hobart Hurricanes – and Lanning admitted that they were more than familiar with each other’s games. “We certainly learn a lot about other internationals, and I guess they learned about us as well,” she said. “I don’t think there are any secrets in international cricket any more. Every game is pretty much on TV, and everyone can see it, so it’s pretty much just about executing on the day. West Indies did that a bit better than us.”

Mott had few complaints about the preparation, though some of Australia’s leading bowlers had distinctly average tournaments. “I think we managed it quite well,” he said. “We did come out of the WBBL quite tired. We had a couple of games against India, and they played really good cricket, but you could see the group was pretty tired. We spent a lot of time in between games just making sure the girls were refreshed and ready to go.

“And that hard cricket, particularly against New Zealand, really helped hold us in good stead leading up to this today. You wouldn’t change anything. It has been a tough, long road, but if we’d won today, we would have said what amazing preparation we had. No excuses. We put our best foot forward, and we were just a bit shy of the mark today.

“The spirit shown in this group over the last few weeks, in particular, is something we’re really proud of. Halfway though our batting innings, I thought we’d really put our foot on it, but we missed a couple of opportunities to bury the game, and other teams will knock you over in that case.”

Mott agreed with Lanning that the gap between the traditional powerhouses and the rest had narrowed rapidly, but added that it only showed how well Australia had done to win three in a row. “Going into this tournament, New Zealand, England and Australia had won about the same number of games in the tournament (WWT20). So, it is a remarkable achievement to win three of them (2010, ’12 and ’14).

“As we saw at the back of the innings, even when we’re out of the game, we didn’t give up. That’s part of the culture in this team. I think it’s exciting. We didn’t get over the line tonight, but we put ourselves in a position to win. It came down to a couple of key moments, and we didn’t quite win them tonight.”

Two of those key moments came near the end. Perry put down a tough return catch from Taylor when she had made 42, and Megan Schutt’s wild throw at the stumps, with two needed, gave West Indies victory.

“You always hope you’re in with a chance until the game’s over,” said Lanning. “It could have made things interesting, that’s for sure. But it just didn’t seem to go our way today. West Indies came out firing, really took the game on, and deserved their win.”

Mott was in agreement. “The game was probably beyond us at that stage,” he said. “You’d like to think that you’re in it, but we can’t isolate that incident (run-out). We missed plenty of opportunities to take the game away from West Indies today, and we’ll learn from that. If we’d put up the score we were capable of, we wouldn’t have had to worry about that sort of thing.