Rachael Haynes barely got a look in the last time a 50-over Women’s World Cup was played, in 2017: she was selected for two of the matches – both times only because Meg Lanning was sitting out with a shoulder injury. One match into Australia’s 2022 campaign and how the tables have turned.
On Saturday, Haynes led the charge, hitting her maiden World Cup century as she took Australia to a 12-run victory in their opening encounter of the tournament against England. Lanning, meanwhile, joined her for a record-breaking second-wicket stand of 196 (the highest partnership against England in an ODI) but was generally content to play second fiddle, falling 14 runs short of a century of her own.
It was a day for breaking records. By the time Haynes was dismissed in the penultimate over, holing out to deep midwicket, she had 130 runs to her name – the highest individual score made against England in a World Cup. A mini-onslaught from Ellyse Perry (14 not out from five balls), who smashed three boundaries from Sophie Ecclestone’s final over, took Australia to a total of 310 for three – the highest against England in a World Cup.
Unassailable? Only just, as it transpired. At 232 for six in the 42nd over England looked down and out, but where Katherine Brunt is concerned, you should never count them out.
Joining her fiancee, Nat Sciver, at the crease, the pair smashed 64 from 45 balls, taking England within touching distance of victory. Only a stunning one-handed grab from Jess Jonassen, tasked with defending 15 from the last over, could do for Brunt.
Sciver, who had brought up a brilliant 79-ball hundred in the 48th over with a sneaky little paddle through fine leg, finished unbeaten on 109, as Australia’s convincing win turned into a nail-biter. One match in for the defending champions and it is pretty clear that this World Cup is going to be a wild ride.
“In tournament play it’s good to have those tight contests and be pushed – England certainly did that,” Haynes said. “To walk away with the win is a really positive start to our campaign.”
Sciver, too, was keen to take the positives. “It feels frustrating [not to get the win] but also really encouraging, ”she said. “From where we were at the end of the Ashes, to be able to turn that around in a couple of weeks is really important. We’ve already seen some high-scoring games and it’s important for us to do the same. “
England’s run chase had started limply before Sciver’s hundred showed the way to brighter things. The usual suspects did their thing: Lauren Winfield-Hill bagged a four-ball duck, while Amy Jones holed out to midwicket in single figures. In between times, Heather Knight (40) showed intent, striding down the pitch to slam Jonassen’s first ball over long-off for six while Tammy Beaumont (74) became the fastest woman to reach 3,000 ODI runs.
Fittingly, on a day when the cricket world was united in mourning for the untimely death of Shane Warne, it was the leg-spinner Alana King (three for 59) who further dented England’s hopes, doing for Sophia Dunkley just when her sixth-wicket partnership with Sciver looked to be gaining momentum. After ripping the ball past Beaumont’s outside edge and having her stumped, King tapped her black armband to acknowledge the debt of lei.
Having been put in to bat by Knight, Australia’s innings had begun with necessary grafting from Lanning and Haynes. “I found it really tricky early, it was slow coming through and England got a bit of swing early,” Haynes said. “They were really disciplined with their lines, it was tough to get going.”
It was not until both players had secured their half-centuries in the 31st over that they felt able to accelerate. That the innings ended with a bang, with Haynes and Beth Mooney (27 not out off 19) scoring 59 runs from the final five overs, turned out to be Australia’s salvation.