No.5 in Wisden’s women’s innings of the 2000s is an in-vain classic from Australia’s Belinda Clark in the 2000 Women’s World Cup final.
Belinda Clark 91 (102)
New Zealand v Australia, Women’s World Cup final
Bert Sutcliffe Oval, Lincoln
December 23, 2000
New Zealand never could do World Cups the easy way. As Jimmy Neesham pointed out recently, “The White Ferns came runners up in the two World Cups before they eventually won in 2000. Maybe that’s how it is for NZ cricketers, they have to get the silver medal twice before they eventually win.” What he neglected to mention was that when Emily Drumm’s team finally did get over the line, it was in a showpiece that prompted Rick Eyre to ask “Was this the greatest World Cup final ever?” in ESPNcricinfo’s match report. There are a few more contenders for that crown now, of course.
That the game did become a classic was down almost entirely to the brilliance of Belinda Clark. Chasing 185, Australia lost Lisa Keightley and Karen Rolton, the two other batters with claims to greatness in their line-up, within 15 balls of their reply, and with just two runs on the board. No other Australian would make it to 20 as Clark dragged her side single-handedly onward.
This was no gritty backs-to-the wall scrap either, with Clark demonstrating a fluency that escaped virtually every other player on either side. Scoring at almost a run a ball and rotating the strike regularly meant that Australia stayed in touch even as the remainder of the top eight contributed a funereal 49 off 157 balls.
By the team she was dismissed, on the first ball of the 42nd over, she had more than 60 per cent of Australia’s runs to her name, despite having only taken only 41 per cent of the bowling. It wasn’t enough. A mad scrap ensued for the final 35 runs, but Charmaine Mason nicked off from the first ball of the final over to give the hosts victory by four runs. Though it will have been little consolation, Clark was awarded the Player of the Match award, with a place in the annals of the great in-vain innings assured too.