Anya Shrubsole is ready to reproduce her ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup final heroics from 2017 as England prepare for the defence of their crown.
The right-arm seamer took six for 46, the best ever figures in a World Cup final, to earn England a dramatic nine-run victory over India in front of a sold-out Lord’s last time out.
The quest to retain their trophy starts at 2pm local time tomorrow against familiar foes Australia in Hamilton and despite not taking more than a three-fer since that final, Shrubsole is prepared to do it again.
She said: “I would obviously hope [I can replicate it.] Otherwise, I’m not sure there is a huge amount of point me being here If I didn’t think I was capable of taking wickets. But I think that has absolutely zero bearing on what happens here. They’re amazing memories and an amazing day to be a part of but this is five years later on and a fresh World Cup in a different country. “I’m just really excited to get out there and get going.”
England versus Australia has often produced dramatic matches in World Cup settings - the last time they met in this tournament, England won by just three runs.
Shrubsole was involved on that day in Briston in 2017 and is expecting, but not hoping for, a similar outcome this time.
“If both teams play well, I think they’re two relatively evenly-matched teams and the games have seemingly gone down to the wire,” the two-time World Cup winner said.
“The nature of World Cups is they’re one-off games and quite often they get quite close. For my own nerves, hopefully, it’s not super close out there tomorrow, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was.”
Someone who could well have a say in how the game goes is opener Alyssa Healy, who starred the last time Australia played a final with 75 from 39 balls in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 showpiece.
Australia captain Meg Lanning said: “She looks good, the other day in the practice game against New Zealand she was on the front foot immediately, punishing any width and bad balls.
“Alyssa has shown over her career that in big games, she steps up and World Cups are tournaments that she plays extremely well in, so I expect the same from her throughout.
“She’s a big game player and she’s very important to us.”
The Southern Stars’ exit at the semi-final stage in the 2017 edition was a line-in-the-sand moment and a five-year rebuild has seen Australia come into the tournament in New Zealand with plenty of experienced heads.
“I think we do have a lot of experience in World Cups and performing under pressure and what that looks like,” Lanning added.
“If anything, we’ve learned to really try and focus on how we can best prepare and play. Of course, we look at the opposition and what their strengths and weaknesses are.
“But at the end of the day, I think if you go out there and really play to your potential and strengths, then that’s going to give you the best chance of winning and that’s certainly what we’ve done in preparation for this World Cup.
“Particularly over the last week, with those practice games, is trying to worry about what we’re going to do and making sure we’re focusing on that because we feel like if we can do that, then that’ll put us in a good position.”
Australia comfortably beat the West Indies in their first warm-up match before falling to a nine-wicket loss to New Zealand and one of the bright spots for Lanning’s side will not feature tomorrow.
Ashleigh Gardner has been ruled out of at least the first two of Australia’s World Cup matches after testing positive for Covid having made 60 from 32 balls against the hosts but Lanning feels confident in her side’s depth.
“We are all supportive of Ash and in terms of the lineup tomorrow, we are still working through what exactly that looks like,” she said.
“Annabel Sutherland has been bowling and batting extremely well so she’s an option there. Nic Carey, as well, has played some really good innings for Australia and bowled some good overs as well.
“So we feel like we’ve got options, we just need to decide what exactly that might look like.”
Content courtesy: ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 via Online Media Zone.