England’s return to international cricket after a six-month absence proved a memorable one, as they took up where they had left off in the World Twenty20 and thrashed West Indies by 47 runs at Derby.
England’s total of 163 for eight was anchored by a 49-ball 62 from Tammy Beaumont, who made the most of her promotion back to the top of the order after languishing at No 7 for much of the World T20.
While three crucial wickets from seamer Shakera Selman (three for 26) knocked the stuffing out of England’s middle order to peg them back in the concluding overs, West Indies could not back it up with the bat, falling well short of their target despite a thundering 69 off 59 balls from Deandra Dottin.
Before play began, coach Lisa Keightley had identified powerplay batting as England’s could-do-better area: they did not give her much to complain about on Monday, adding 49 runs across the first six after choosing to bat first, with only Danni Wyatt (17) back in the dugout – their highest powerplay total in their last 10 T20 internationals.
West Indies should have had them two down early on, with Beaumont put down by Britney Cooper at deep midwicket when on just nine; while Cooper made amends by clinging onto another one in the same position to see off Nat Sciver in the eighth over, her earlier mistake proved costly. Beaumont clearly had a point to prove, smashing 10 boundaries, including the only six of the England innings, clattered straight back over the head of bowler Aaliyah Alleyne.
With captain Heather Knight (25 off 17) watching on from the other end for much of the Beaumont show – the pair shared a 52-run partnership – it looks likely she has cemented her opening spot for the foreseeable.
England were 109 for two after 12 overs and looked to be on course for a big total, but Selman’s second spell yielded big wickets in each of her three overs: the seamer skilfully exploited her slower ball to have first Knight caught behind wafting outside off stump, and then Beaumont snaffled by Afy Fletcher at third man attempting a reverse-scoop.
Amy Jones (24 off 16) was her third victim, holing out to Alleyne at deep extra cover after a flurry of boundaries. To add insult to injury, Katherine Brunt – sent in up the order to boost the scoring – was stumped first ball off Hayley Matthews, as England’s innings ended with a whimper.
In reply, West Indies were pegged back brilliantly in the powerplay by a combination of Brunt, Sciver and Sophie Ecclestone, with star batter Matthews caught at mid-off for just three. By the time the West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor was bowled by a beauty of a top-spinner from Sarah Glenn in the seventh over, her side had just 28 runs on the board. Five overs later a horrendous mix-up between Dottin and Lee-Ann Kirby saw the bails removed at both ends as the pair, chasing the ever-increasing required run rate, looked for a second run; Dottin was initially saved by a fumble by Anya Shrubsole, before a quick throw down the pitch to Amy Jones sent her partner packing.
It was Dottin’s second near miss of the day: she had already survived a DRS review when on nought, with the review – the first in any bilateral women’s series in England – showing she had narrowly avoided making contact playing across the line to Brunt.
As it was, she went on to score a 45-ball half-century including the cleanest of sixes sent miles over deep midwicket in the 15th, before being bowled by Ecclestone’s arm ball in the penultimate over of the match. Her welcome return to form – her last half-century in international cricket came in February 2019 – at least offers some hope for West Indies ahead of the second match of the series at the same venue on Wednesday.