Record Book – England v India at the Women’s World Cup

  The final of the eleventh edition of the Women’s World Cup, between hosts England and a vibrant India, is underway at Lord’s, in what promises to be a riveting battle. While England have won the title thrice, India, on the back of remarkable wins over New Zealand and Australia, will be looking to lay their hands on the trophy for the first time.

  England and India have clashed on ten occasions in the Women’s World Cup, dating back to their first meeting in the 1978 edition. England hold a slight advantage, but India have won the most recent contest, on the opening day of the ongoing tournament. As the summit clash heats up at the Mecca, let us revisit the past World Cup encounters between the two sides.

Kolkata, 1978

  This league match at the iconic Eden Gardens was incidentally the first ever ODI that India Women played. It was a forgettable outing for the hosts, as they were shot out for a paltry 63 in 39.3 overs, with skipper Diana Edulji (18) being the top-scorer. Opening bowler Glynis Hullah returned figures of 6.3-4-2-2. England overhauled the total in the 31st over to win by nine wickets.

Auckland, 1982

  The 1982 edition, played in New Zealand, featured five teams, each team playing every other thrice. England saw off India by four wickets at Auckland’s Cornwall Park, chasing down a target of 113 with 24 overs to spare. Earlier, only captain Shanta Rangaswamy (50) stood tall as India were bowled out for 112 in the 53rd over. Hullah was at her stingiest again, taking 2/5 in 9.2 overs.

      Indian pacewoman Jhulan Goswami returned figures of 4/27 to set up a convincing win against England at the 2005 World Cup (source – thehindu.com)

Wanganui, 1982

  India exacted revenge in the second round, at Cooks Gardens in Wanganui, achieving ODI success against the Englishwomen for the first time. Wicketkeeper Fowzieh Khalili, opening the innings, stroked a career-best 88 to propel India to 178/7 in their 60 overs. In reply, the Indian bowlers, led by leggie Shubhangi Kulkarni (3/19), condemned England to a 47-run defeat in the 56th over.

Nelson, 1982

  England were back to their ruthless best at Trafalgar Park, where they subdued India with a dominating display. Pacer Janet Tedstone (4/17) and off-spinner Carol Hodges (3/9) tore through the Indian batting, and the total of 61 in 37 overs made for sorry reading. England cruised to a ten-wicket victory in the 22nd over, and went on to reach the final, which they lost to Australia.

Finchampstead, 1993 

  In what was possibly the best match of the tournament, the hosts eked out a last-gasp win. Jan Brittin scored 100 in England’s total of 179 – they lost their last seven for 22. Edulji, leading India again, took 4/12 with her left-arm spin. India went from 83/2 to 128/7 in reply, but the tail kept them alive. In a tense finish, number eleven Laya Francis was run out with four needed from two balls.

Lincoln, 2000

  The two teams played out another tight affair, this time in New Zealand. The English attack bowled with control to keep India to 155/7, Chanderkanta Kaul scoring 45. England crashed to 35/4 in the 21st over, before Claire Taylor (60) steadied the ship. India however had the final say, pinching an eight-run win with four balls left, off-spinner Rupanjali Shastri (3/25) being their best bowler.

      England captain Charlotte Edwards scored a match-winning 109 against India at Mumbai in the 2013 Women’s World Cup (source – ICC) 

Pretoria, 2005

  India, who would go on to enter their maiden final, notched a facile seven-wicket win. Pace ace Jhulan Goswami (4/27) and left-arm spinner Neetu David starred as England were bundled for 139, despite fifties from Charlotte Edwards (58) and Arran Brindle (51*). India slipped to 35/3, but Anjum Chopra (64*) and Rumeli Dhar (42*) dropped anchor, the win coming in the 46th over.

Sydney, 2009

  Eventual winners England stamped their supremacy in a nine-wicket win against India in the group stage at the North Sydney Oval. Holly Colvin (3/22) and Jenny Gunn dented the middle order, building on a fine start from Isa Guha (2/16). Mithali Raj top-scored with 59. The target of 170 was chased down in the 39th over, with Caroline Atkins and Claire Taylor both remaining unbeaten on 69.

Mumbai, 2013

  Reeling from a defeat to Sri Lanka in their opening game, defending champions England bounced back with a 32-run success against the hosts at the Brabourne Stadium. Captain Charlotte Edwards led from the front with a stroke-filled 109, powering England to 272/8. Despite the best efforts of Harmanpreet Kaur (107*), India could only manage 240/9, thanks to pacer Katherine Brunt (4/29).

Derby, 2017

  India began the 2017 edition positively, recording an impressive win against the hosts. Openers Punam Raut (86) and Smriti Mandhana (90 in 72 balls) set the tone with a 144-run alliance, following which captain Mithali Raj scored 71. Facing a challenging total of 281/3, England wobbled to 67/3 and were eventually dismissed for 246 in the 48th over, Fran Wilson’s 81 going in vain.

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Specials – When the Women’s World Cup was last held in England

  The Women’s World Cup, the final of which is being played at Lord’s today, returned to England after 24 long years. The 1993 tournament was the fifth edition and featured eight teams, then a new record. 

  Interestingly, the 60-over format was persisted with, even as the men’s World Cup had shifted to the standardized 50 overs back in 1987. Australia were defending the title, having won the previous edition in 1988 at home. Here is a look back at a few highlights and moments from the 13-day-long tournament.

A transformed roster, two decades on

  England had earlier hosted the inaugural edition in 1973, which featured an intriguing mix of teams. Besides the hosts, Australia and New Zealand, there were Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago playing as separate nations – unheard of in men’s international cricket – as well as an International XI and a Young England outfit.

  On the other hand, 1993 saw the West Indies play the tournament for the first time, while Denmark also made their World Cup bow.

Heavyweights dish out opening-day drubbings

  Veteran opener Janette ‘Jan’ Brittin impressed for the hosts in their opening game against Denmark with a sublime 104 that led to a 239-run rout of the opposition. Chasing a total of 286/3, the highest of the tournament, the Danes lost their last five wickets for one run to be bowled out for 47.

  On the same day, Australia began their title defence with a breeze, subduing the Netherlands, who were bundled out for 56 thanks in main to a remarkable return of 12-7-8-4 from pacer Brownwyn Calver, by ten wickets.

      England, hosts of the 1993 edition of the Women’s World Cup, won their second title after defeating New Zealand in the final at Lord’s (source – gettyimages/espncricinfo.com)

The Netherlands win their first World Cup game

  Having endured eight straight defeats in their maiden World Cup appearance in 1988, it would not have been surprising to see the Dutchwomen go winless again, especially after the limp display against Australia.

  However, their second match, against newbies West Indies, presented the ideal opportunity to break the duck. And they did it in quite resounding fashion, defending 158 to win by 70 runs, with Pauline te Beest (62) and Anita van Lier (4/24) doing the star turn.

England see off India in a pulsating climax

  In what was possibly the best match of the tournament, the hosts eked out a last-over victory against India. Brittin was in the thick of things again, scoring 100 in England’s total of 179 – they lost their last seven wickets for 22.

  The evergreen Indian captain Diana Edulji bowled splendidly, taking 4/12 with her left-arm spin. India went from 83/2 to 128/7 in reply, but the tail kept England on their toes. Eventually, number eleven Laya Francis was run out with four needed from two balls.

Underdogs play out a thriller of their own

  An equally exciting finish followed three days later, when Ireland staved off a brave Dutch challenge. The Netherlands could manage only 134/8, with skipper Nicola Payne (46) being the top scorer.

  Ireland looked on course at 60/2, but were put on the brink thanks to an incisive spell from Ariette van Noortwijk (4/21). It was left to Judith Herbison and Susan Bray, at nine and ten respectively, to stitch an unbroken stand of 32 and ensure a two-wicket win in the 57th over.

     Karen Smithies, England’s 24-year-old captain, receives the World Cup trophy at Lord’s. She was also the joint highest wicket-taker of the tournament (source – ICC/gettyimages)

New Zealand signal their intent with a clean slate

  The White Ferns failed to finish in the top two in the first four editions, but they were the standout team in the league phase this time, with seven wins out of seven. Despite being bowled out for 127 against England, they ensured that it was enough for a 25-run win.

  The lowest total, 40 by the Netherlands, of the tournament came against New Zealand, with Jennifer Turner taking 5/5. They reserved their best for Australia, blowing them away for 77 en route to a ten-wicket win.

Hosts prove their superiority in the summit clash

  However, New Zealand’s unbeaten streak was broke  when it mattered most – in the final at Lord’s on 1st August, 1993 – a historic occasion for the women’s game. England, whose only league loss had come against New Zealand, got back with a facile 67-run win to secure their second title.

  Brittin (48) and Carole Hodges (45) steered England to 195/5, before New Zealand ambled to 60/2 in the 27th over, at which point the run out of Debbie Hockley turned the tide towards England. New Zealand fell to 71/5, and never really recovered, terminating at 128 in the 56th over. Gillian Smith took 3/29 for the hosts.

Presenting the chart toppers

  Jan Brittin, England’s batting pillar, was the leading run-scorer in the tournament, tallying 410 runs at 51.25, including two hundreds. The highest individual score came from the bat of Helen Plimmer, who scored 118 for England against Ireland.

  Karen Smithies, captain of England, and Julie Harris of New Zealand – both medium pacers – were the leading wicket-takers with 15 scalps each, while New Zealand’s Jennifer Turner recorded the best bowling figures, a sensational 5/5 against the Netherlands.  

Record Book – Ireland at the Women’s World Cup

  Ireland missed out on qualifying for the Women’s World Cup for the third time in a row, after failing to progress from the Super Six stage of the Qualifiers held in Sri Lanka earlier this year. However, the Irish eves have had their fair share of experience in the showpiece event of the women’s game. Here is a look back at how Ireland have fared in the tournament over the years.

1988

  The fourth edition of the Women’s World Cup, held in Australia as part of its Bicentenary celebrations, marked Ireland’s debut in a multi-team cricket tournament. One of the only five teams to feature in the double round-robin tournament, Ireland finished fourth with two wins in eight matches. Their first encounter with New Zealand at Perth was forgettable, as they went down by 154 runs.

  The very next day, Ireland, captained by Mary-Pat Moore, achieved their maiden ODI win, defeating the Netherlands by 86 runs at the Willeton Sports Club in Perth. After being put in to bat, Ireland rode on Stella Owens’ 66 to get to 196/5 in the allotted 60 overs. The Dutchwomen then crashed to 37/5 and could only manage 110/7, thanks to a disciplined Irish effort with the ball.

  A pair of one-sided defeats at Sydney, by ten wickets and seven wickets against heavyweights Australia and England respectively, put paid to any faint hopes Ireland might have had of an unlikely spot in the final. The action then moved to Melbourne’s Carey Grammar School Oval, where Ireland notched their second win, chasing down the Netherlands’ 143 with five wickets and 20 balls remaining.

1993

  A record eight teams contested the 1993 edition in England, with the 60-over format retained. Each team played every other once in the league stage, where Ireland, led by Moore again, finished a creditable fifth. Ireland bounced back from a seven-wicket loss to New Zealand in their first game with a 70-run win over Denmark at the Christ Church Ground in Oxford.

   Irish captain Miriam Grealey hits out during her side’s win over the Netherlands in the 2000 Women’s World Cup. She has scored 505 runs across four editions (source – espncricinfo.com) 

  A fifth-wicket stand worth 96 between the dependable Stella Owens (61) and Miriam Grealey (63*) helped Ireland recover from 84/4 towards a defendable 234/6. The Danes were restricted to 164/9 despite being placed at 105/2 at one point. Susan Bray was the pick of the bowlers with 3/22, while three run-outs pointed to a quality effort in the field.

  Three defeats then followed, but Ireland impressed in two, limiting the margin of defeat against Australia to 49 runs and taking six Indian wickets while defending 151. Ireland’s second victory came against the Netherlands at Marlow, where, chasing 135, they slumped to 104/8 before winning by two wickets. The Irish campaign ended with a narrow 19-run defeat to the West Indies.

1997

  The record for the most number of teams was broken again, with as many as 11 sides taking part in the 1997 edition in India. Ireland were clubbed in Group A, alongside defending champions England, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan and Denmark. The maximum number of overs per innings was now the standardised 50. Ireland were led by the seasoned Miriam Grealey this time.

  After their opening game against Australia was washed out, Ireland saw off Denmark by nine wickets in a rain-reduced, 23-over affair at Chennai. Pacer Barbara McDonald took 3/12 to restrict Denmark to 56/7. Ireland’s next two outings, against South Africa and England, ended in big losses, by nine wickets and 208 runs respectively.

  In what was a must-win, final group clash against Pakistan at the Nehru Stadium in Gurgaon, Ireland rose to the occasion with a resounding display. Grealey top-scored with a quickfire 62 in Ireland’s total of 242/7 before the off-spin duo of Catherine O’Neill (4/10) and Adele Spence (3/4) helped shoot Pakistan out for just 60 – extras being the highest contributor with 27.

  This win enabled Ireland to enter the quarterfinals, by virtue of finishing fourth in their group with 15 points. In the knockout, they met New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Faced with a challenging total of 244/3, Ireland limped to 105/9 to lose by 139 runs. Grealey ended as the highest run-getter for her team, with 137 runs from five innings at 34.25.

     The Ireland Women’s team celebrate a Sri Lankan wicket at the 2000 World Cup. They went on to narrowly lose the game by ten runs (source – espncricinfo.com)

2000

  The tournament was back to the eight-team league format in 2000, with New Zealand being the hosts. Grealey continued being the Irish skipper, and her team was rolled over for 99 en route to an eight-wicket defeat to the hosts at Lincoln in their first match. Next up was Australia, against whom it was even worse as Ireland lost by ten wickets after being bowled out for 90.

  In the third game against Sri Lanka, Ireland fell heartbreakingly short of victory. After skittling their opponents for 129, Ireland steadily seemed on track at 65/2 in the 32nd over. But the pressure of the mounting required run rate led to a regular fall of wickets and they folded for 119 in 49.5 overs. This was followed by a tame eight-wicket defeat to a England.

  Ireland produced an improved display against India, but was not enough to prevent a 30-run defeat. Their solitary triumph came against the Netherlands at Christchurch where a total of 232/6, enough for a 41-run win, was reached thanks to Caitriona Beggs (66*) and Anne Linehan (54). In their last game, Ireland went down to South Africa by nine wickets.

2005

  South Africa hosted the event for the first time, with the format of the competition unchanged. Clare Shillington was now in charge of Ireland, who qualified after winning the inaugural World Cup Qualifier held in the Netherlands in 2003 undefeated. But the tournament proper would prove to be a different kettle of fish, as for the first time, Ireland ended without a single win.

  In their first completed match, Ireland suffered a nine-wicket drubbing at the hands of India after being bowled out for 65. Two days later, another sizeable defeat followed, this time to England by 128 runs. It was hardly any better against New Zealand – bowled out for 91 before losing by nine wickets – or against the West Indies, to whom they lost by eight wickets.

  A tough campaign ended with a ten-wicket loss to Australia, with Ireland’s struggle to 66/8 in 50 overs highlighting the gulf between the two sides. Ireland have played 34 matches across five editions of the World Cup, winning seven and losing 26. Miriam Grealey is their highest run-scorer with a tally of 505, while Catherine O’Neill, with 17 victims, is the highest wicket-taker.

Record Book – The oldest cricketer to play an ODI match

  It is common knowledge that Barbados-born Dutch opener Nolan Clarke is the oldest man to appear in an ODI match, having taken the field at the age of 47 years and 257 days against New Zealand at Vadodara in the 1996 World Cup. He had made his debut against South Africa a little over a fortnight earlier, making him the oldest ODI debutant as well.

  However, it is not Clarke who holds the record of being the oldest person to play ODI cricket. Beating him by 98 days is former wicketkeeper-captain of West Indies Women, the intriguingly named Stephanie Power. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Power was 47 years and 355 days old in her last ODI, against South Africa at Pretoria in 2004-05.

  The match in which Power actually surpassed Clarke’s nine-year record was also played in Pretoria – a league match of the 2005 World Cup against New Zealand. She remained the West Indian captain till the end of her career, having first taken over the reins at the age of 46 in 2003 – making her the oldest ever international captain on captaincy debut in any format.

  Power made her ODI debut back in 1993, in a World Cup game against Australia at Tunbridge Wells. She was the second-highest scorer with 23 in a measly West Indian total of 131/9, but she never really took off in the batting department as her career progressed. In her 22 innings from 34 ODIs, she totalled 183 runs at 8.31, with a best of 28.

stephanie-power

      Stephanie Power showed that age is just a number when she captained the West Indies for the first time at the age of 46 (source – windiescricket.com/randy brooks)

  Her Test average was better, albeit she played only a solitary Test, against Pakistan at Karachi in 2003-04. This was the match in which Pakistani opener Kiran Baluch scored 242, creating a new record for the highest score in a Women’s Test. Power, who was not keeping wickets, scored 19 and 57, the latter playing a part in saving her side after they were made to follow on 279 in arrears.

  On the same tour of Pakistan, Power enjoyed her first series success as captain, leading the West Indies to a 5-2 win in the seven-match ODI series. Never before had the West Indian eves won a bilateral ODI series. A second win came in a three-match affair in South Africa in 2004-05 – her final international outing – with the victory margin being 2-1. 

  Under her leadership, the Windies finished runners up, behind Ireland, at the World Cup qualifiers in 2003 and then beat Sri Lanka and Ireland at the 2005 World Cup, which was a significant improvement as they had failed to make the cut for the previous edition in 2000. These achievements make her one of the most successful female captains from the Caribbean.

  Following her 12-year international playing career, Power, who is also a qualified physical education teacher, went on to become an acclaimed coach in the West Indies as well as the United States. She has been a key part of the West Indies Women team’s coaching staff and was the first female inductee in the USA Cricket Hall of Fame in 2015.

  It would take something extraordinary in order to break Power’s records of being the oldest ODI cricketer and the oldest international captain on captaincy debut. Since her retirement, no cricketer, female or male, has played an international match after the age of 45. 

Specials – Revisiting the best of Rachael Heyhoe-Flint

  Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, who passed away on 18th January at the age of 77, was a pioneer of women’s cricket and an undisputed great of the game. Due to her noteworthy achievements as a successful captain of England, an administrator and a vocal crusader of gender equality, she has left an indelible mark on the game and the way it is run today.

  Heyhoe-Flint was a major catalyst in the ideation of the first Women’s World Cup in 1973, which predated the inaugural men’s edition by two years. As if this was not enough, she went on to lead England to victory in the tournament. In 1998, she actively campaigned for the path-breaking vote that allowed women to become members of the hallowed Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).

  Born in Wolverhampton, Heyhoe-Flint was a first-rate top-order batswoman who played 22 Tests and 23 ODIs in an international career that spanned from 1959-60 to 1981-82. Her tally of 1594 Test runs, scored at an average of 45.54, is currently the third-highest in the women’s game, while her ODI average of 58.45 still remains the highest among those who played at least 20 innings.

  Captaincy came calling for the first time in 1966, when she took over the reins for the home series against New Zealand. Never in her 12 Tests in charge did she taste defeat. In 2010, she was christened a peer in the House of Lord’s, thus taking the title of Baroness Heyhoe-Flint. In the same year, she became the first female inductee in the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.

rachael-heyhoe-flint

       Rachael Heyhoe-Flint – a pioneer of the game who took on the establishment for the sake of a better future for women’s cricket (source – gettyimages/centralpress)

  While her impact was felt beyond the cricketing field, the genesis of Heyhoe-Flint’s commendable journey lay in her credentials as one of the finest batswomen the world has seen. As a tribute to her inspirational career as the first truly iconic female cricketing personality, we look back, in chronological order, at five of her most significant performances for England.

113 and 59* v New Zealand, Scarborough, 1966

  Heyhoe-Flint celebrated her first Test in charge with her maiden century for England. She followed her 113 – which remained her highest score for a decade – in the first innings with an unbeaten half-century in the second. Though the match ended in a dour draw, the new captain led from the front – something which would be repeated several times in the years to come. 

76 and 68 v Australia, Adelaide, 1968-69

  England had secured a series win over Australia after 26 years in 1963, but the challenge now was to defend the ‘Ashes’ (not until 1998 were series between the two nations officially called the Women’s Ashes) five-and-a-half years later in Australia. Heyhoe-Flint had since taken over as captain and was a vital cog as far as the hopes of England, playing in Australia after 12 years, were concerned.

  The skipper duly made a mark in the first Test at the Barton Oval in Adelaide. Coming in at number three, she produced a knock of 76, sharing in a second-wicket stand of 127 with debutante Enid Blakewell (113). With her team trailing by 69, she averted any potential second-innings awkwardness with a patient 68, thus beginning her first overseas series as captain with twin fifties.

114 v Young England, Ilford, 1973

  Heyhoe-Flint’s only ODI century came at the 1973 World Cup against Young England, which was essentially a team made up of U-25 players. She rescued England from a tricky 55/3 with a resolute 114, making up nearly half of her team’s total of 231/6 in the allotted 60 overs. Set a rain-revised target of 152 from 39 overs, Young England went down by 50 runs.

rachel-heyhoe-flint-009

       In 2010, Rachael Heyhoe-Flint became the first female cricketer to be inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame (source – gettyimages)

64 v Australia, Edgbaston, 1973

  The inaugural Women’s World Cup was a seven-team round-robin affair, with the title going to the league topper. England and Australia, respectively having 16 and 17 points, played the concluding match at Edgbaston, which was in effect the final. England’s only loss in the tournament had come at the hands of New Zealand.

  Luck favoured Heyhoe-Flint at the toss and she had no hesitation in deciding to bat. With opener Blakewell (118) for company, she was involved in a partnership worth 117 for the second wicket that took the wind out of Australia’s sails. She was eventually dismissed for a busy 64, playing her part in England’s strong total of 279/3, which was enough by 92 runs for a memorable World Cup title.

179 v Australia, The Oval, 1976

  Heyhoe-Flint fittingly produced her career-best score when her team was in adversity against the old enemy. England had been the ‘Ashes’ holders since 1963, but their defence was under serious threat after they were bundled out for a paltry 134 on the first day of the third Test at the Oval. The visitors further seized the advantage by racking up 379 on the board.

  The third and final day belonged to the captain as she staged a remarkable second-dig rescue act, batting for nearly nine hours in compiling a stonewalling 179. England were in a dire position at 76/3, still 169 in arrears, but Heyhoe-Flint went on undeterred, shepherding her side to 326 and a series-saving draw. Her effort was then the second-best score in a Women’s Test.

  From being the first woman to hit a six in a Test in 1963 to becoming the first woman to be elected to the full committee of the MCC in 2004, Rachael Heyhoe-Flint’s association with cricket encompassed an array of accomplishments and broke many a barrier. She will always be remembered as the visionary who foresaw a brighter future for every aspiring female cricketer.

In Focus – Ireland Women create history in style

  A week after levelling the two-match T20 series with a maiden win over South Africa, Ireland’s sprightly women have created history again by winning the final match of the ODI leg. This is the first time that Ireland – whether men or women – have defeated South Africa in an ODI.

  Though South Africa had already wrapped the four-match series with easy wins in the first three ODIs, Ireland, led by Laura Delany, had everything to play for in the concluding battle at the Hills Cricket Club ground in Dublin. They went on to produce an utterly convincing display to prove that they are no pushovers.

  South Africa never really got going after deciding to bat amid windy conditions. 20-year-old vice-captain Kim Garth bowled a tight spell and was duly rewarded with the wickets of openers Laura Wolvaardt and Trisha Chetty, who had scored 105 and 95 respectively in the third ODI.

  From thereon, the Proteas were stifled by an increasingly disciplined Irish bowling attack. Medium pacer Louise McCarthy got rid of the dangerous Mignon du Preez – who had scored an unbeaten century in the second ODI – before Garth (3/27) came back to grab her third scalp in the form of Lara Goodall.

zzzisop

     Former captain and star all-rounder Isobel Joyce scored an unbeaten 62* to guide Ireland to victory (source – cricketireland.ie)

  With South Africa reeling at 57/4, the hosts now had a firm grip on the proceedings. Andrie Steyn scored a plucky 43, but wickets at regular intervals nullified her efforts. Captain Dinesha Devnarain was brilliantly run out by Lucy O’Reilly while rookie Gaby Lewis – all of 15 years of age – accounted for Sune Luus with her leg spin.

  Just when Steyn and Chloe Tyron were attempting a recovery, veteran Ciara Metcalfe had the former caught behind by Mary Waldron, who took four catches. O’Reilly joined the party as well, nailing Yolandi Fourie thanks to a catch from Isobel Joyce, before Metcalfe (3/23) collected the last two wickets, including Tyron’s, to restrict the opposition to a measly 143.

  Having conceded totals of 283, 272 and 260 in the first three games, this was a significant improvement from the bowlers and the onus now lay upon the batting line-up to finish the task. The start was a bit wobbly – Clare Shillington, Una Raymond-Hoey and Cath Dalton were all back in the hut within 16 overs.

  Shillington had raced to a breezy 28 to give the chase a bright start, but her innings was cut short by a direct hit from Ayabonga Khaka. The evergreen Joyce came in at 68/3 to join Lewis in the middle. Lewis’ maturity belied her years as she admirably dropped anchor while Joyce went on the attack at the other end.

zzzgar

            Vice-captain Kim Garth took 3/27 to dent South Africa’s top order (source – alloutcricket.com)

  This mixture of caution from the talented youngster and aggression from the senior pro soon blossomed into a commanding partnership, evaporating any faint hopes that the South Africans might have entertained. Joyce reached her fourth ODI fifty from 67 balls with a boundary off Fourie in the 36th over.

  Another boundary from Joyce – her 12th – from the first ball of the next over off Marcia Letsoalo sealed Ireland’s comprehensive seven-wicket victory. The unbroken alliance raised 78 runs in 20.3 overs – Joyce scoring 62* in just 71 balls, Lewis an equally valuable 27* in 70 balls.

  This heart-warming win is yet another addition to the successes of the Irish women’s team over the past couple of years. The T20 win last week was not as much of a surprise as was made out to be, considering Ireland’s consistent growth in the format.

  Last December, Ireland, under the inspirational leadership of Joyce, won the World T20 Qualifier in Thailand by defeating Bangladesh in the final. In the World T20 proper earlier this year, they came within 14 runs of defeating Sri Lanka at Mohali. In 2013-14, they beat Pakistan by six wickets at Doha.

  The women’s game has been infused with new vigour following the rise of the T20 format, and the performances of emerging teams are a welcome development. Ireland Women have been steadily improving and the twin wins against South Africa are a further indication of their unquestionable talent.

Match Scorecard 

Who Would Have Thought It – Ireland’s first and only Test match

  Ireland may have set a target to become a Test team by 2020, but the fact is that the country has already been represented in official Test cricket quite a few years ago. Moreover, not only have Ireland played Test cricket, but they also boast of a 100% winning record.

  The match in question was a solitary Test between Ireland Women and Pakistan Women played at College Park in Dublin and which lasted just two days – 30th and 31st July, 2000. Ireland then were a clearly stronger outfit than Pakistan on the women’s circuit, and the gulf between the sides showed in the result.

  The ODI series preceding this four-day Test featured a string of heavy Irish successes. The hosts began by skittling Pakistan for 95 en route to a nine-wicket win in the first ODI, which was followed by wins with margins of 117 and 150 runs in the next two games. In tough conditions and facing a buoyant home side, the visitors were up against it from the word go.

  While Ireland were on Test debut, the Pakistani women had played one Test match before – against Sri Lanka in 1997-98, in which they were thumped by 309 runs. Led by the seasoned Miriam Grealey, the Irish side for this landmark match bore a mix of youth and experience, the average age being 27.

  The youngest member of the eleven was Isobel Joyce, who stepped down as Irish captain in March 2016. Joyce had just turned 17 and went on to deliver a wonderful bowling performance in this match. She was not even 16 when she made her ODI debut, against India in 1999, and till date remains one of the mainstays of the Ireland team.

  Amid moist conditions following overnight rain, Pakistan captain Shaiza Khan elected to bat on winning the toss, a decision she was probably left to rue. Medium pace bowler Barbara McDonald dominated the early proceedings, as she destroyed Pakistan’s top order with a testing spell of 3/9.

zzziso

     A 17-year-old Isobel Joyce starred in Ireland’s inaugural Test with a brilliant bowling display (source – broadsheet.ie)

  McDonald’s burst ensured that Pakistan lost four wickets – including that of the captain – for as many runs to crash to 10/4, the remaining wicket going to leg-spinner Ciara Metcalfe. At the other end, off-spinner Catherine O’Neill gobbled the fifth wicket and Pakistan were staring down the barrel at 21/5.

  Opener Zehmerad Afzal – who presently plays for Cheshire – tried to dig in and shared in a partnership of 29 for the sixth wicket with Deebah Sherazi. However, the latter’s dismissal by O’Neill (3/15) triggered another collapse, as Pakistan succumbed to spin. O’Neill and Metcalfe, who finished with 4/26, made short work of the tail.

  Pakistan lost their last five wickets for just three runs to be bundled out for 53, consuming a painstaking 47.4 overs. Only two women reached double figures, Afzal top-scoring with an obdurate 25. Ireland’s bowling was both stifling and penetrative, as evidenced by 25 maiden overs. Though Saibh Young went wicketless, she conceded only a run in her ten overs.

  Ireland lost Clare O’Leary to Sharmeen Khan for a duck with only five runs on the board, but Pakistan failed to build on this start. Karen Young (58) and Caitriona Beggs (68*) put the game beyond Pakistan’s reach as they added 112 for the second wicket. Nazia Nazir took two wickets, but it hardly unsettled the Irishwomen.

  Wicketkeeper Anne Linehan (27*) belted a few quick runs as Ireland set their sights upon a declaration. With the score reading 193/3 in 47 overs, Brealey decided it was enough, especially since there was always a possibility of rain hampering her team’s onward charge. With a lead of 140 on the first day itself, Ireland were well on top.

  Pakistan reshuffled their batting order for the second innings, but it hardly helped. Sheerazi, promoted to open, was cleaned up by McDonald as the eventful first day drew to a close. A circumspect Pakistan ended the day at 8/1, facing an uphill task to stay alive in the contest.

  The second day belonged to the teeanged Joyce, whose left-arm medium pace proved to be too hot to handle for the visitors. There was no play before lunch due to rain and when the match resumed, Joyce took full advantage of the seam-friendly conditions.

  Joyce began by bowling Sajjida Shah and trapping Nazir LBW, both for ducks, to reduce Pakistan to 8/3. She followed it up by having the talented Kiran Baluch caught behind. Khursheed Jabeen and Afzal attempted a revival by adding 34 for the fifth wicket, but the writing was already on the wall. 

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     Caitriona Beggs top-scored for Ireland in their inaugural Test with an unbeaten 68 (source – womenscricket.net) 

  Afzal top-scored for Pakistan again with 20, before she became the first of three wickets to fall to O’Neill (3/12) while the score regressed from 56/4 to 62/7. Jabeen stoically faced 156 balls, but could manage no more than 13 runs as Joyce returned to complete the last rites.

  The last three wickets all fell bowled to Joyce as Pakistan’s agony came to an end after 54.1 overs, in which they crawled to a total of 86. Joyce, who did not bowl in the first innings and came in only as the fifth bowler in the second, finished with remarkable figures of 6/21 in 11.1 overs.

  Ireland had won their first ever Test match by an innings and 54 runs in less than two days. While Ireland had galloped at 4.11 runs an over, Pakistan managed a rate of just 1.36 across both innings. Joyce was named as the player of the match for her bowling effort. It could not have been a better start.

  Due to the Test getting over in double-quick time, two additional ODI matches were played at the same ground as an extension of the original series. Ireland won the first of these while the second was washed out, giving the home team a 4-0 win in the five-match series. 

  Unfortunately, Ireland’s inaugural Test also turned out to be their last. Women’s Test cricket across the world has gradually declined ever since, and today, except for Australia and England and to a certain extent India, it is virtually a dead concept. The rise of Twenty20 has instead given women’s cricket a highly feasible format.

  Ireland’s women are not alone to have enjoyed a successful start in Test cricket without going on to play their next. Sri Lanka too have never played a Test after beating Pakistan in the aforementioned match. Pakistan themselves have played only three Tests in all and none since 2004. 

  As the Ireland men’s team gears up for the prospect of Test cricket within the next three years, let us not forget their female counterparts’ commendable achievement of winning their first official Test match in resounding fashion sixteen years ago.

Match Scorecard