Mark Robinson believes England Women were “playing catch-up” throughout the Women’s World T20, after rain scuppered the early part of their tournament.
The coach believes that was one of the reasons the England batters were unable to fire in the final showdown, with their mid-to-lower order a little rusty.
England succumbed to an eight-wicket defeat in the early hours of Sunday morning, which ended hopes of become reigning champions of both of the ICC’s flagship tournaments, having lifted the Women’s World Cup last year on home soil.
A warm-up match between the two sides was abandoned, as was England’s opening Group-A fixture against Sri Lanka. While England won the next two, they were chasing modest targets of 78 against Bangladesh and 86 South Africa.
Amy Jones and Nat Sciver both struck half-centuries in the semi-final against India but England found it tough on a slow deck in the final in Antigua, being bowled out for 105 inside 19.4 overs before Australia made light work of the chase.
Tammy Beaumont, one of the England batters who was given a regular opportunity, was unable to replicate the efforts that crowned her Player of the Tournament during last year’s Women’s World Cup; she produced just 54 runs at 10.80 at the WT20.
“There were a lot of girls who hadn’t quite got into rhythm,” Robinson told Sky Sports. “We felt we’d got Nats away the other night, and Amy… We felt all this tournament we’ve been playing catch-up. We started okay and then we hit the rains in the last warm-up game and then St Lucia.
“Overall we’ve coped really, really well but it cost us today. There were just too many mistakes, from the umpires, from us, from the fielders, and it was quite a strange first half, but you’re not going to win defending 105 … especially when you’re going to have to bowl with a wet ball on a wicket that’s actually quite good. It did grip a bit but with all the dew it skidded on.
“We were just 30 runs too light. It was a shame because the Aussies were jittery, they made quite a lot of mistakes in the field, but we just couldn’t capitalise and were a bit careless.”
Kirstie Gordon was one of three players to make their debut during the tournament, and she finished as England’s highest wicket-taker, while Sophie Dunkley and Linsey Smith also showed promise.
“Under Heather, we don’t want things to stand still,” Robinson said. “We’ve got to get competition for places and we’ve got to keep moving forward. We thought we caught Australia cold in 2017 but they’ve moved their game on now, so we’ve got to keep doing that – even if you can’t do it in the short term, you’ve got to be looking for the long term.
“People like Sophia Dunkley are going to have long futures – she’s not the finished article by any stretch of the imagination … but that innings against West Indies showed she has a chance.
“All the bowlers have done well, and we hope that was a breakthrough for Amy Jones in T20 cricket. Kirstie Gordon’s done really well on some helpful wickets. Sophie Ecclestone was outstanding tonight. Our bowling’s made a move but we haven’t had enough batters in form when we needed it.”
Although pitches in the Caribbean provided a stern test for batters, and Robinson believes that’s a key area for improvement in women’s cricket, the former Sussex coach concedes that the rain made things very difficult for the ground staff and that “it wasn’t through a lack of effort”. He also believes the tournament will help the women’s game to grow.
“You’ve probably helped grow women’s cricket in the West Indies, due to how it’s caught the imagination and the home team doing quite well”, added Robinson. “It’s getting there. We need lots of good domestic leagues, infrastructure. We need the whole stage to be growing – not just England-Australia.”
Australia captain Meg Lanning said after Australia clinched victory: “It’s definitely the most satisfying win I’ve been involved in, especially after the last couple of World Cup exits for us. The last couple of World Cup exits for us hurt our team a lot. And we spoke about that as a group and not hiding away from that fact.
“But I think that the biggest thing has been that we’ve been able to learn and really grow as a group. I’ve got no doubt that this group is capable of something special. We’ve really put together an amazing squad and support staff.”