Sophie Ecclestone says winning matches for England as part of a young spin posse is a ‘dream come true’ after sealing a semi-final spot by dispatching West Indies.
Ecclestone took 3/7 as England sealed a passage into the final four, with leg-spinner Sarah Glenn taking 2/16 and Mady Villiers, 19, a first T20 World Cup wicket.
The 20-year-old Ecclestone, who has taken wickets in her last 18 T20I outings, is loving every minute of bowling in tandem with two of her closest friends.
“With Glenny and now Mady in the team, it’s really nice to have a spin companionship,” said Ecclestone. “I get on well with them, they’re some of my best friends in the squad, and it’s nice to all to be performing well together and winning games for England. It’s a dream come true really.
“I don’t really see myself as a leader of the group. It’s a good group to be around and all the girls are in it together. I’m still taking stuff from the likes of Katherine (Brunt) in everything that they do, so I’m still learning myself. Against West Indies, we needed to get Deandra Dottin and Hayley Matthews early, they are key players for them, and we managed to do that.”
England’s spin group are by far the most economical at the World Cup, going at 3.87 runs per over, while Group B rivals South Africa are the next most efficient with an economy of 4.66.
Lisa Keightley’s side have reached the semi-finals for the fifth tournament in a row, set to face either India or the winner of Australia’s winner-takes-all clash with New Zealand. A 46-run defeat at Sydney Showground spelled the end for West Indies, whose hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages have been dashed.
England posted 143/5 and Windies never looked like chasing it down, with Lee-Ann Kirby’s 20 the top score and a stretch of 17 dot balls in the middle overs summing up their struggle.
Senior seamer Shakera Selman offered a damning assessment of her side’s campaign with the return of senior players to the fold not enough to inspire improvement.
“We struggled against Thailand, were defeated against Pakistan and didn’t show up with the bat against England. I guess, we didn’t deserve to go through,” said Selman. “It was good to have senior players back but experience doesn’t count for anything if you’re not performing. We needed to step up and execute and we didn’t do that in this tournament.
“We haven’t been playing well for the last year or so and it continued in this tournament. I guess, we didn’t stick to the basics. We weren’t positive enough. We’d worked really hard in the nets on rotating strike, everything we did wrong, we had practiced. It’s a worry any team would worry when senior players aren’t performing. We expected to get out of the group stage.”
(This article first appeared on the International Cricket Council website)