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A net session masquerading as a World Cup match

June 26th, 2017 | by admin
A net session masquerading as a World Cup match
Australia
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West Indies were brushed aside in a match which they seemed not ready to play

The ball came out of the top of Hayley Matthews’ fingers and floated down the pitch like it was an underarm to a toddler. Beth Mooney took two short steps and belted it over long-on for six. All of it looked like particularly easy range hitting, like the last ball the coach gives you when you’ve been smashing them, as a treat. Go on then, murder this one.

The only problem for Australia in this match was that it was too easy. West Indies got off to a slow start, lost wickets consistently, and then their tail completely combusted. There were worries over Australia’s pace attack, whether it was too raw, or even good enough to win a World Cup in England. But that really didn’t matter.

If they had been up against a team in better form, you might want to ask why they were so keen to bowl first – Meg Lanning started an incident to make sure they did – and then began with a spinner.

In another game, you might have worried a little bit as Ellyse Perry bowled her last four overs for 30 runs while being regularly hit for fours and one six.

Maybe you could have obsessed over why Elyse Villani bowled two overs when the frontline Australian attack was doing the job, and doubly obsessed over why she came back on for the 34th over when Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin were just looking to attack. But, today there was no need, because after Dottin was dismissed, in an over she was tearing up Perry’s figures, West Indies never gave more than a whimper again. Most of their innings was just batsmen gently pushing the ball back down the pitch.

Taylor was left with a tail so feeble that they all but orchestrated a run out just for her to regain strike. As well as she played neither she nor her team-mates Matthews and Dottin – the three stars in the West Indies team – could score a fifty. To push Australia, they needed at least a hundred from one of them. A total of 204, in Taunton, against an Australia line-up aiming for scores over 300 was never going to be enough.

For the longest time in Australia’s net session masquerading as a World Cup fixture, it looked as if they wouldn’t lose a wicket. Mooney’s effortless innings involved a boundary to every part of the ground as West Indies’ bowlers seemed to be giving her throwdowns designed to let her practice her best shots. If Mooney was good, Nicole Bolton was outstanding. To the spinners, she used her feet like she’d been told what ball they were going to deliver beforehand, and her straight drives looked like an illustrated cricket handbook. When the ball was short, she was simply brutal.

Bolton lost Mooney and Lanning in the chase, but brought up her hundred off only her 108th ball. She couldn’t have made it look easier had she batted while taking regular sips from a pina colada and smoking a pipe. There was no punching the air when Perry hit the winning run, the Australians just turned to their sparring partners and thanked them for their workout.

The most entertaining parts of the day were the odd events off the field. Taylor called right at the toss, told Lanning she wanted to bat, then told Ian Bishop she wanted to bat, then decided she wanted to bowl. Lanning was still under the illusion that they were bowling until she was told that wasn’t the case. Had she not been told, both teams would have started preparing to come out and bowl. When Lanning found out she was batting, she was furious, and a heated incident happened on the ground between Taylor and Lanning and eventually match referee David Jukes had to tell Taylor that West Indies had to bat first under the ICC playing conditions.

This happened after the Australian team handed the wrong team sheet to the press, and in a game where the official host broadcasters could show the audience watching at home two run-outs that were given not out because there was no DRS; there wasn’t even a third umpire.

But somehow, as bad as the toss, the team sheet and the cameras showing umpiring errors were, West Indies were worse. After Matthews’ horror full toss, for some reason, Taylor still had Shakera Selman in place at short leg for her bowling. When Matthews dropped horribly short, Mooney connected with a brutal pull shot, and the ball flew into Selman’s head. West Indies made bad decisions, then executed them poorly, and Australia hurt them.

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