Phoebe Graham looks ahead to Sunday’s T20 World Cup final between South Africa and Australia in Cape Town, saying the host nation have the chance to change the face of women’s sport in the country…
South Africa beating England is a historic moment in their sporting history.
They are now in their first T20 World Cup final and, as host nation, the stage is set for them to change the face of women’s sport in their country.
Siya Kolisi was at the semi-finals and spoke about the impact created when South Africa won the men’s 2020 Rugby Union World Cup. “Sport has the power to unite a nation and this is a huge opportunity for women’s sport in our country,” he said.
Kolisi is an ally of women’s sport and his presence only added to the atmosphere at a packed-out Newlands in Cape Town on Friday.
‘South Africa calm and calculated as England feel pressure’
South Africa played out of their skin to steer the game away from one of the tournaments favourites in England. They played a different style to England’s fearless and brave brand of cricket. They were calm and calculated.
They only scored 37 off the powerplay after deciding to bat but as they didn’t lose a wicket it enabled them to accelerate.
The frustration of Laura Wolvaardt (53 off 44) and Tazmin Brits (68 off 55) showing calmness and class unsettled England and the pressure got to them. We saw misfields, poor throws and plans unexecuted.
As always, Sophie Eccelestone performed and got the breakthrough wicket of Wolvaardt. It was a huge point in the game but not enough to contain South Africa, who scored 164 in their 20 overs.
Katherine Sciver-Brunt’s last over went for 18 runs, including a chest-high no-ball that was hit for four. She was visibly irritated in the preceding overs which filtered into the team’s energy. It’s the first time England have been put under pressure and they lost the composure we have been so used to seeing.
It left a big task for England. It played into their new brand of fearless cricket but it would take nerves of steel and a big performance with the bat. They started in their true style, reaching 53 from five overs, and it looked a comfortable chase.
There was some outstanding fielding and athleticism displayed by South Africa, though. Brits took four brilliant catches, including a diving one to dismiss Alice Capsey. The hosts were outstanding – they had clear, calm plans and went to slower balls and cutters at the death as the pitch started to wear.
England needed just less than two a ball going into the last five overs. It looked in control but an outstanding 18th over from Ayabonga Khaka, taking three wickets, put the win in South Africa’s hands. It was a brilliant team display with bat, ball and in the field.
South Africa’s teamwork pulled them through and their players are peaking at the right time but Australia will be the out-and-out favourites, with all their big guns firing with the bat and in the field.
‘Australia won the moments that mattered against India’
Both semi-finals were competitive, high scoring-games won by narrow margins. What impressed me the most were the three things they had in common: runs on the board, clinical fielding and the ability to absorb pressure.
Australia are renowned as a nation to display these qualities, which is why they are back-to-champions and yet to be defeated in this tournament.
Ellyse Perry saved two runs with a diving stop in the penultimate over against India, Ashleigh Gardner ran out Harmanpreet Kaur for 52 when India were running away from the game. Australia knew how to win the moments that really mattered in the game and stayed calm in the field.
What has shocked us in this tournament is that South Africa have risen to the top. Their stars have risen to the top, with Brits, Wolvaardt, Shabnim Ismail, Khaka and Marizanne Kapp peaking at exactly the right time.
They made their intentions clear ahead of the tournament with selection by leaving out Dane van Niekerk for fitness reasons, sending a strong message to young girls and boys aspiring to play at the top.
I am backing South Africa. I hope they go out there and inspire every young girl and boy watching and help change the face of women’s sport in their country.
They have done their nation so proud so far. Let’s hope they can do it once again against the dominating Aussies.
Watch the Women’s T20 World Cup final between Australia and South Africa live on Sky Sports Cricket on Sunday. Coverage begins at 12.30pm ahead of the first ball at 1pm.