Following on from England’s men, who broke the record for the highest men’s ODI total against Australia on Tuesday, England Women smashed the record for the highest women’s T20I score, a record set by New Zealand earlier on the same day, and which stood for less than six hours. Poor South Africa were the opponents on both occasions, with England’s 250/3 setting up a 121-run victory.
Tammy Beaumont was the main architect, smashing the second-fastest century in women’s T20Is. An incredible 96 of her 116 came in boundaries, and almost all on the leg-side as she punished the Proteas for bowling too straight too often. Before she was dismissed, virtually the only moment of discomfort was when she went to scoop and only managed to send the ball into her own helmet grille.
Danni Wyatt, before Beaumont England’s only T20 centurion, was reduced, for once, to the role of supporting partner, contributing just 56 of England’s first-wicket stand of 147. It wasn’t that she scored particularly slowly – her eventual strike-rate was over 150 – it’s just that it would have taken a bullet train to keep up with Beaumont.
Pushing England’s total into the realms of the record-breaking were Nat Sciver and Katherine Brunt, who added 64 runs in just 4.2 overs. Brunt was the slightly more scorching, briefly threatening the record for the fastest T20I fifty before falling to the innings’ penultimate ball for an 18-ball 42. Captain Heather Knight chipped a single of her first ball to close the innings and bring up England’s 250.
England have finished on 250/3, breaking the world record for the highest women's T20I innings set earlier today by the @WHITE_FERNS! What a performance!Can South Africa chase this down?#ENGvSA LIVE ➡️ https://t.co/JCOiX3fawP pic.twitter.com/F295ljHlH1— ICC (@ICC) June 20, 2018
For South Africa’s part, while there were still some of the mis-fields that were the hallmark of their performance against the White Ferns, and though their bowling still left much to be desired, there was no faulting their spirit, best epitomized by two spectacular boundary efforts from Sune Luus and Tamsin Brits, each of whom jumped at long-on, caught the ball, and released it before falling over the rope, saving a combined 10 runs between them.
It was a day of déjà vu for the Proteas, and not just because of how often they had to fetch the ball from beyond the ropes. With the bat two their two innings followed eerily similarly patterns, with early damage rendering improbable chases hopeless before captain Dane van Niekerk and former captain Mignon du Preez restored a semblance of respectability.
The early damage was set up by the mesmeric Anya Shrubsole, who came on to bowl with 616 runs having been scored in 60 overs in the day, and returned the sublime figures of 4-2-8-0. Her opening partner Katherine Brunt was slightly less parsimonious, but made up with two wickets, finishing with 2-18.
South Africa were 26/3 and staring down the barrel of a record victory margin before van Niekerk and du Preez added 75, with van Niekerk again the major partner. On another day, her 51-ball 72 would have been match-winning. As it was, it just about dragged her side past the half-way mark, with them eventually finishing on 129/6, just 121 runs shy.
Today however, was all about England, and all about their batsmen. South Africa may well be dreading facing England again on Saturday 23 June. Considering the exploits of the two teams’ batting line-ups, everyone will be hotly anticipating the clash between England and New Zealand which will follow that game.
Brief Scores: England: 250/3 (Beaumont 116, Wyatt 56); South Africa: 129/6 (van Niekerk 72)