Ball One – In the warm-up, a ball breaks through Anya Shrubsole’s hands and smashes her in the mouth, knocking her down. She is led off for treatment, but appears fit to play. Earlier, I had seen the England players racing about on a damp outfield playing a version of tag. I know that there is a risk of injury if players do not warm up properly, but how many players get injured in warm-ups these days? Too many I venture – and a little easing back might (literally) not hurt anyone.
Ball Two – Wearing the same uniforms as their male counterparts, the women players all look like professional athletes, in mid-tournament, ready for action. Surprisingly, none are very tall. Having visited Wimbledon a couple of days ago, it was obvious how advantageous height was in women’s tennis – a game with many parallels to cricket. Height certainly matters in the men’s game, where England have recently been keen on tall pacers and have Cook and KP to represent the empire state humans in the upper order. The brutal winnowing of teenage tennis hopefuls might provide a useful source for bowling talent.
Ball Three – Lacking the popeye forearms of the biffers whom we have become used to seeing smash it all over the paddock in powerplay cricket, Laura Marsh and Charlotte Edwards have used timing, placement and imagination to score at over a run a ball in a fine opening stand. The batting is a delight to watch, old-fashioned in execution overlaid with the urgency of the 21st century game. Think VVS Laxman and Mahela Jayawardene with the odd dilscoop between the caresses through the covers.
Ball Four – No England batter scores at less than 100, but no England batter provides the impetus to push England up to 150, which feels like par on a ground offering lots of opportunities for twos. England will have to field well to defend this total – fortunately the fielding unit, led by the dazzling Sarah Taylor behind the stumps, is England’s trump card.
Ball Five – Yes there are rules and regulations for ICC sanctioned tournaments, but it’s a shame that neither of the umpires is a woman. There are plenty of schoolgirls in the ground with some fine role models amongst the players, but it’s a shame that the only other women on the playing area are waving pom-poms and shivering in short skirts.
Ball Six – As tension built at the finish, Rachael Haynes was run out by a smart throw from Claire Taylor backed up by an even smarter gather and breaking of the wicket by Arran Brindle. As the bowler, Brindle was quick to get back behind the stumps to effect the dismissal in the traditional way – still nothing wrong with the old techniques I was taught at school nearly forty years ago.