Allrounder’s vital performance with bat and ball ensured victory over stubborn NZ
Katherine Brunt had been here before.
So when England slumped from 109 for 1 to 140 for 5 in their first ODI against New Zealand, she teamed up with her skipper, Heather Knight, for a steadying 88-run partnership and contributed 43 valuable runs to the hosts’ cause.
Then, defending a below-par total of 241, Brunt came out and bowled four maidens in a row while Nat Sciver took 2 for 10 off five overs from the other end to ultimately ruin New Zealand’s run-chase.
After spending time off the field to treat some tightness in her back, brought on by her batting efforts, Brunt returned to the attack and took a wicket to further dent New Zealand’s faint hopes.
“Funnily enough, we’d had a meeting about a target of ours, which included maidens, and, being the competitive soul I am, I took that upon myself to do as much as I possibly could,” Brunt said after England’s 30-run win in Bristol.
“I’m 36 now and I’ve played 475 games and I’ve got to look after myself,” she added of her spell off the field. “It’s been a really, really long summer, possibly the busiest summer of my whole career and I’m at the very end of it, so you’ve got to be smart, you know, take precautions. It’s just about keeping me on the pitch for as long as possible and doing the right thing.”
England sorely missed experienced duo Brunt and Knight when both sat out injured during the second T20I in Hove, won by New Zealand earlier in the tour.
And experience almost came back to bite them when the White Ferns’ seasoned campaigners, Amy Satterthwaite and Sophie Devine, pressed the Bristol ODI into far deeper territory than the hosts would have expected them to from their position of 31 for 3.
Satterthwaite scored 79 not out and put on 78 runs for the fourth wicket with Devine before offering valuable late resistance with Lea Tahuhu and Leigh Kasperek, taking the match to the 47th over before England sealed victory.
From the 2017 World Cup final, where England beat India in a thriller when Anya Shrubsole claimed the crucial last wicket, to their ODI victory against India earlier this summer – when Brunt and Sophia Dunkley put on 92 runs for the sixth wicket to see England over the line in Taunton – and scraping home with one ball to spare to beat New Zealand in the deciding T20I of this tour, England have performed well under pressure.
And, as they prepare for their World Cup defence in New Zealand next year, Brunt backs her side to continue doing so.
“It definitely got close too close for comfort, but that’s the quality of New Zealand,” Brunt said of their latest encounter. “They have brilliant batters who can chase down big totals and it didn’t surprise me that it went down to the wire like that.
“We’ve been in these situations a lot before. Obviously what helped us was the wickets, them having one or two left obviously would have limited them in their shots a lot, which kept the favour on our side all the time. And knowing it’s only one [wicket] away.
“The World Cup final is a classic example of that never-give-up sort of thing. You have to rely on experience just to keep calm basically and make sure you do your job and don’t let the situation of the game get the best of you.”
Striding to the crease with her side in trouble on Thursday night, experience told Brunt not to think of the difficulty of the situation and to remain calm.
“Heather at the crease, that gave me a bit of confidence in itself,” Brunt said. “With Yorkshire domestically, I’ve had countless times where I’ve had to go in when we’re 30 for 5 so it’s not an unfamiliar place for me. I actually prefer situations like that, to be honest. It’s almost easier than having to go at tens at the back end of an innings.”
For Satterthwaite, Thursday’s match brought a combination of pleasure from the manner in which her side fought back and the pain of defeat.
“I’m proud of the way that we keep fighting,” Satterthwaite said. “I think they wouldn’t have expected Lea to come out and bat like that and even Leigh.
“They’re probably thinking of us eight down and they probably think that it’s not far off a win, so to probably scare them a little bit to a certain extent at the end there was a nice feeling.
“For the rest of us, seeing the way that those two played at the end shows that if we can apply ourselves a bit more and stick it out for longer in the middle, anything’s possible and they’ve probably showed us how to do that a little bit.”
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo