The Sophie Ecclestone displacement factor | a T20 World Cup semi-finals preview

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A year ago, during the 50-over tournament, we headlined our semi-finals preview piece, Who will lose to Australia in the World Cup final? Even if it’s a different format, it’s tempting to take the same attitude now. But if there’s one thing we’re sure of, it’s that life isn’t an endless procession of victories. It’s more of a munge of making-the-best-of-its. Surely that fundamental truth will apply to Australia before too long?

T20 World Cup semi-finals time then. Where are we? Australia and England have won all four games so far. India have only lost to England. South Africa are also through having won two games bigly and lost two marginally.

Australia play India tomorrow. England play South Africa on Friday. (Both matches are at 1pm UK time.)

England v South Africa

If there’s cause for optimism for England, it’s that they currently boast the tournament’s top run-scorer (Nat Sciver-Brunt) and also the top wicket-taker (Sophie Ecclestone). If the latter only shares that position with Australia’s Megan Schutt and New Zealand’s Lea Tahuhu (great name) then it’s worth emphasising that her average (a comical 7.62) and economy rate (an absolutely outlandish 3.81) are superior.

This is of course just more of the same from Ecclestone, who is the top-ranked bowler in both limited overs formats and showing few signs of ever not being so. It has reached the point now where many teams are pretty much just writing off the four overs she bowls as losses and hoping they can do enough with the bat to win in the other 16. That is an incredible thing and honestly not really a very viable strategy.

Ecclestone really deserves a catchy nickname or tagline to acknowledge her consistent brilliance. ‘The Chester Jester’ references what a fun player she is, but doesn’t otherwise seem all that flattering. For now, we’re going with ‘The Cestrian Who’s the Bestrian’ because it’s exactly the mix of awkward and awful that always seems to appeal to us.

For their part, South Africa are at home, which is surely helpful. Less helpfully they’re still slightly haunted by the decision to leave out captain Dane van Niekerk because she couldn’t run 2km quickly enough.

Obviously the players will have been trying not to think about her omission during the tournament. Equally obviously, they’ll have been completely failing, because one of them – Marizanne Kapp – is van Niekerk’s wife.

Australia v India

India are in decent shape. Their only defeat was to England and it wasn’t a bad one. After initially reducing them to 29-3, they found themselves chasing 152 to win and successfully exceeded the required run-rate in the 16 non-Ecclestone overs.

It is also usually India who end Australia’s recurring winning streaks. They ended a 21-match unbeaten run in December, albeit only after a Super Over. They also ended a 26-match winning streak in one-day internationals that stretched from 2017 to 2021.

As causes for optimism go, the best you can say is that it is one.

The final’s on Sunday, by the way.

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  1. The Chester Jester is also too close to The Jester from Leicester, one of Mark Selby’s nicknames.
    And I believe it should be Kapp not Capp

  2. Really hoping the Sciver-Brunts end up batting together at some point, surely a record for ‘highest international partnership by a married couple’ has got to be on the cards

    1. Picking up on the “international partnership by a married couple” point, I have engineered such a thing in one of our charity matches, many years ago.

      That one distinguished not only because the happy couple knocked off the winning runs, but because it was a “return to the scene of the crime” – Fran & Eugene met at the equivalent fixture in Holland Park three years earlier.

      The photograph within the above piece of Charley The Gent helping the police with their enquiries is reason enough to click.

  3. The nickname “The Cestrian Who’s the Bestrian” is worth the price of admission alone. It really is so very, very, bad, it’s good.

    An interesting side note to the term Cestrian – which I admit I looked up to check whether or not it is for real – is the fact that not only is it the term for anyone who hails from Chester (the Cheshire place from whence Sophie originates), it applies to anyone who is a native of or resident in a place named Chester – including anyone from Chester-le-Street. This fact does open the door to some Cestrian word play for Durham CCC. players. In Mark Wood’s case. given his once regular wicket celebration riding an imaginary horse…

    …The Cestrian Who’s Equestrian: Mark Wood.

  4. Quote of the day from K Sciver-Brunt: ‘I was trying too hard…every cricketer knows that if you try too hard, it all goes down the toilet.’

    Been there, my friend.

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