Five things we learned from England v Bangladesh
ONE: With the introduction of professional contracts and better investment in the women’s game, T20 cricket is slowly transforming into a contest of blunt force. Previously the pursuit of classical, orthodox shots, full-time training and gym work is now allowing the players to expand their repertoire. A younger generation coming through, who have all grown up with the pyrotechnics of modern Twenty20 cricket, are moving the game into new territory. As the Women’s Big Bash and Super League take hold, there should be a further influx of boundary-hunting batsmen.
TWO: When India posted 163 against Bangladesh in the opening match of the World T20 on Tuesday, apart from setting our their batting capabilities, it also made the task of finishing top of Group B that bit trickier. By restricting The Tigers to 91 for 5 in their reply, it gave the hosts a Net Run Rate (NRR) of +3.6, a mammoth total for other teams to try and rein in. Thus, England needed to match India’s performance against Bangladesh. They feel short however, scoring 153 when a target of 170+ was necessary. Even the bowlers weren’t able to claw back the difference, stepping off the gas in the final passage of the game as Nigar Sultana and Salma Khatun made a 64-run 5th wicket partnership to finish Bangladesh’s innings on 117.
THREE: One match, one six. It may not seem a lot, but England have already clouted more maximums in this edition of the World T20 than the whole of their previous outing two years ago in Bangladesh. Attacking batting is the mantra now employed by the team, and it showed in their 2016 opening match. Freed from the shackles of inertia, which strangled their strokeplay for too long, the side are now encouraged to be more aggressive under new coach Mark Robinson. Taking over in November, Robinson has worked quickly to remove the fear that at times used to grip them. Challenging the team to try new shots and develop their game, he’s also concentrated on enlightening the bottom order to contribute with the bat.
FOUR: Charlotte Edwards is still a capable T20 opener. As mentioned above the game is changing, as power hitting becomes commonplace with a younger generation able to dedicate themselves to the sport fully. But it will take time, and the England captain remains a fine operator at the top of the order. In Bangalore she provided the backbone to England’s innings, striking 60 off 50 balls, making more than double than the next highest score. The concern that continues to bubble away is that while she’s going at a little over a run a ball, no one around here is supplementing it with devastating fireworks. Not until Dani Wyatt and Katherine Brunt came to the crease, at 6 and 7, did score at a strike rate above 130.
FIVE: Tougher tests await England. As starts go they couldn’t have been dealt a kinder fixture to begin their World T20 campaign. The second lowest ranked team in the competition, Bangladesh secured their spot in India as runners-up in the qualifying round held at the end of 2015. But here England allowed their lower middle-order to pile on the runs, Bangladesh eventually recording their highest-ever T20I score (117). Alarm bells will be ringing among their bowling unit that such a batting attack were able to make so many. Next up for England is India, a team full of explosive batting. Improvement will be needed.