a cab to where the first practise match was. All I knew was St Pauls – didn’t know if the name of a ground, town or part of town. Reception said 10 miles the other side of town. Taxi went and went and was getting worried though enjoying the scenery – turns out that this is the other end of the island! We came across the ground, all of a sudden, where the game was already underway. India, on paper, were the tougher of the two warm up games, but having posted a reasonable total on a baked wicket, we restricted them and never got near. One set of parents, staying near me and having a car, offered a lift back to town and then were good enough to pick me up the following day too for easier win over Sri Lanka with a couple of our batters getting their eye in. We went back to the bottom of the island down the other coast, so I’ve been round the island, just not stopped much.
On the rest day, we all went looking for tickets, as despite being free, the games are ticketed – think trying to get schools in, whilst keeping riff-raff out… Certainly been some local ‘characters’ around!
First game today, off to the ground to see a record breaking innings by one of the West Indian girls, beating the record set by the WI mens captain getting over 100 with more 6’s than 4’s much to the delight of the largely partisan crowd. S Africans put up a good show and will be disappointed to get as close as they did and not win. Popped into town to send postcards at lunch, very hot and back with anticipation, but perhaps our girls were nervous as it was not a good batting display and definitely a bowlers game for both sides and having set a below par score we managed to get the aussies all out for the same score. The rules then dictated a one over shoot out, but despite having overs on both sides with lots more runs, both sides only got 6 of their overs, meaning the one 6 that the aussies scored in the game gave them victory. Team and supporters gutted, but we did well to restrict them and they will be down to know that they didn’t get a low total easily. The other group plays tomorrow, but must see more of this pleasant island, so hope to arrange to see it.
I got the driver to drop me at the ground for a game that was winable after our bowlers restricted them to a run a ball. Our openers had it all under control, cruising almost and then both openers went, followed by two more all for just 2 runs. We still had lots of batting to come, but somehow we ended up 2 runs short though all the way through I was not worried, convinced that the run rate was gettable. It was not to be and the local girls really wanted it, the crowd was right behind them, although the choice of music for the last couple of wickets was rather un-sporting – we are the champions and something like you’re going home! Out for drinks with some parents with various theories discussed, shouted over the normal friday night lime (party) in the streets.
Somehow, astoundingly, I’m not totally depressed, think it would have been worse had we got to the final and lost…. My analysis? I’m not sure – did we start to believe our own press? Were the returning players not fully match fit? Did we try to get there too quickly to improve our net run rate position? Was there conflicting guidance from management? As a non-player not in the camp, how can I know… No doubt the ECB will have post-mortems and there will be lots of heart-searching, certainly the girls were inconsolable although I think they have the skills and ability to get across the line, in both games, but somehow they couldn’t put them all together on the day. Onwards to the Kiwi series at home this summer, at least they haven’t been one of the opponents, so let’s hope we still have the rub on them.
Tomorrow back to support the girls in the last game and see if the Windies can beat the aussies too. Holiday to St Lucia now starts monday, some of the parents are also booked to the other two islands, and some are staying at the same hotel as the players so will have to contend with the other teams over breakfast!!
Windies didn’t manage to beat the Aussie girls so they will face NZ in the semis, with aussies v India in the other one. Meantime, in the mens, Collingwood et al, were on a bit of a charge and were through to their semis. Over the next couple of days the other places were filled by the aussies (again), then Pakistan and finally Sri Lanka… maybe I would get to see more cricket.
England Men were clinical in the way that the girls have been the last couple of years, pitched to their strengths and backed themselves to deliver as a team… shame was that as I was dropped off, the pick up time was confirmed as before the girls semi! Others on the bus were interested in seeing the game, but not enough to go against the driver and the consensus of folk wanting to get back across the island….
Back to Barbados, where I was much too early to check in. Wander into town to get some cash, a read and a stroll filled much of the day, including finding some supplies for the cricket as some parents had got me a ticket. Ground was not full full, but pretty good turn out considering no local interest. Definitely wanted England to win though! England did the same as the semi, tied up the aussies taking 3 wickets in 3 overs to tighten the screws through the middle and by the time they got going towards the end, it was too little too late. Lumb got out early, unlike him for this tournament, but two SA borns took us pretty close to the line – unlike the SA team which have a reputation for bottling it! Fitting that the skipper hit the winning runs, and having looked incredibly nervous decided to get it all over with a fitting display of power hitting at both ends. An invader spoiled my chances of good pics of the celebrations! Shame that after such a master-class in how to win a final and hold collective nerve, that the white ferns after having bowled in a similar manner, forgot how to bat, how to chase and really didn’t seem to want it… the aussies seemed desperate, throwing themselves around and holding their nerve to smother the kiwis who seemed to realise that they needed to do something but left it way way to late… shame as not a good advert for the women’s game to what was a world stage…