Musings from Beyond the Boundary – 23 July

Musings from beyond the boundary – cricketing thoughts through the eyes of Trevor Auger, an Auckland Cricket Society and Supporters Club Member.

Two cracking semi-finals in the Women’s World Cup this week.

It was shades of Eden Park 2015 for South Africa, with England sneaking home with two deliveries in hand, as Anya Shrubsole walked to the crease at the fall of the eighth wicket and despatched her first ball to the boundary to win the game.

Two days later India continued their giant-killing, knocking out the reigning champions. This result came thanks to a remarkable performance by Harmanpreet Kaur. Coming to the wicket with India struggling at 35/2 in the tenth over, she scored an unbeaten 171 out of an eventual total of 281/4, and all that in an innings shortened by the weather to 42 overs.  Kaur’s innings occupied just 115 balls and included twenty fours and seven sixes, and she made almost 70% of the runs added while she was in the middle. Take into account that her first fifty took the 28-year-old 64 balls and the scale of her performance is brought ever more clearly into focus – her final 71 runs came from 25 balls.

Chasing 282 to make the Final, Australia were suddenly 9/2 with Nicole Bolton and Meg Lanning both gone. A 105-run partnership between Ellyse Perry and Elyse Villani threatened to snatch back the game, but 38 balls after Perry was out Australia had sunk to 169/9  with almost ten overs to play.

The excitement wasn’t over though. Number 11 Kirsten Beams joined Alex Blackwell in a nail-biting 76-run last wicket partnership which came to an end only off the first ball of the penultimate over when Blackwell was out for an heroic 90 off 56 balls and India had won by 36 runs.

India have beaten England, New Zealand and Australia on their way to a sell-out Lord’s Final, only their second final appearance at a Women’s World Cup. Their first was in South Africa in 2005 and on that occasion they succumbed to Australia by 98 runs, so this semi-final victory will have tasted particularly sweet.

Some absorbing test cricket to capture the attention last week as well, with South Africa evening things up at one-all in England, and Sri Lanka winning a wonderful contest in Colombo against Zimbabwe, earning their revenge after the visitors had pipped them in the preceding ODI series.

Sri Lanka’s 346 in their first turn at bat was the lowest innings total in the match, and the home side chased down 391 on the last day, with four wickets in hand – the highest successful fourth innings run chase in Asia. Notably in such a high-scoring match, no Sri Lankan scored a hundred, although Craig Ervine and Sikandar Raza reached three figures for Zimbabwe.

As if we hadn’t seen enough rain in New Zealand, wet weather has also upset play in the NatWest T20 Blast over the last week, with a number of games being shortened, or abandoned altogether.

In spite of the interruptions, it was a better week for many of the New Zealanders involved, with the stand-out performance from Brendon McCullum for Middlesex against Kent. His 88 came off 51 balls with nine fours and six sixes, and was his first significant contribution with the bat since the competition got under way.

In the same innings, Tim Southee managed his third Golden Duck off the tournament, but went on to take 1/27 with the ball. In reply, Jimmy Neesham managed a 37-ball 52 in a losing cause.

Earlier in the week, Ross Taylor had scored an unbeaten 47 for Sussex in a washed out game against Gloucestershire and Luke Ronchi had got his Leicestershire side off to a great start against Warwickshire scoring 46 of his team’s first 59 runs, from just 23 balls.  In the same innings Grant Elliott took 2/10 off his 3 overs, bringing about a dramatic change to the scoring rate.

Warwickshire ended up losing that game, but Colin de Grandhomme contributed a useful 24.

Through the week, Southee, Santner and Neesham all joined Elliott with two wicket hauls, but the best Kiwi bowling result came from Ish Sodhi, who captured 3/39 for Nottinghamshire against Northamptonshire.

Sad news on Friday with the passing of Graham Burgess, one month short of his 97th birthday. A stalwart of the Auckland Cricket scene since his days at Mt Albert Grammar in the 1930’s, Graham was a Life Member of the Auckland Cricket Society and Supporters Club and of the Cornwall Cricket Club, for whom he had served as Patron since 1991. In 2001 he had been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to our game.

Graham also had a distinguished military record in World War II, flying with Bomber Command over Germany, and sadly losing many friends and colleagues. He recalled those days in Jim Allnatt’s book ‘Auckland Cricket 1901 – 1945: The Middle Years’, recounting how he had played a few games in London in 1942 for a New Zealand Forces XI:  “Unfortunately Clarrie Lund and Bruce Boaden were lost just the night before one game so we were two short.”  …Lest We Forget.

Rest In Peace, Graham.

*Cheers Photosport for the WWC17 image*