‘England have exceeded the public’s expectations,’ says Nat Sciver-Brunt.

'England have exceeded the public's expectations,' says Nat Sciver-Brunt.

A trip to Taunton and Dunkley’s birthday cake helps the team process the disappointment of the Ashes’ loss.

'England have exceeded the public's expectations,' says Nat Sciver-Brunt.
Nat Sciver-Brunt played a knock for the ages to keep England in the game

Nat Sciver-Brunt believes England’s women “exceeded the public’s expectations” during a tense series with Australia

Nat Sciver-Brunt believes England’s women “exceeded the public’s expectations” during a tense series with Australia, adding that a bus trip to Taunton and a slice of Sophia Dunkley’s birthday cake helped the team process their mixed emotions after her outstanding innings of 111 not out from 99 balls fell agonizingly short of salvaging their Ashes hopes in the second ODI at the Ageas Bowl. It was Sciver-Brunt’s third unbeaten century in four ODIs against Australia, and she finished on the losing side, as Australia’s ruthless winning machine found just enough resolve to close out another tense match.

“What a game we had,” Sciver-Brunt said on the eve of the series finale in Taunton, where England’s goal will be to tie the Ashes points race at eight apiece while completing a noteworthy sweep of the white-ball legs, following their 2-1 victory in the T20Is earlier this month. “I’m not sure how to respond to it, because obviously when you get a good score and end up losing, it’s a strange feeling,” she continued. “Obviously, we were disappointed as a team to come so close and not quite pull it off, and not being able to retake the Ashes adds another layer to that.” “But we recognized that and talked about it after the game, and we’re really trying to focus on tomorrow’s game, because another series win against them would be huge.”

When asked what the squad did to deal with their disappointment after coming so close to a fourth straight win against an Australian side that hadn’t lost a single international match since September 2021, Sciver-Brunt answered, “Well, we went on a bus to Taunton.” So I had plenty of time to think about it. “We put some music on and just tried to enjoy the moment a little bit,” she added. “It was also Sophia’s birthday, so we had a little cake on the bus and didn’t want anyone to dwell on things too much, because we obviously have an important game tomorrow.” “It’s all about pride and knowing that what we’ve done so far in this series has been quite successful.” We’ve always been positive with the bat and searched for wickets with the ball, so our mindset mostly stays the same. But it’s about ensuring we’re in a good spot tomorrow, where we’ve banked our feelings from yesterday, and using the ODI series win as an incentive.

'England have exceeded the public's expectations,' says Nat Sciver-Brunt.
Sciver-Brunt ‘was in the moment’ throughout her nerveless century

In the immediate aftermath of the second ODI, Australia’s player-of-the-match Alana King insisted that the team gap would not “close anytime soon,” despite admitting that England had pushed her side close in each of their three victories across the multi-format series. Sciver-Brunt, on the other hand, had a different point of view. While she admitted that Australia was more experienced in triumph, she was adamant that England was creeping in on a team that had swept everything before it for the previous five years.

“I’d say we’re not all that far apart, really,” she replied. “There isn’t much of a gap as long as we keep our intent and the way we play.”  “When the pressure is on, they probably still have a slight advantage over us.” We’ve crossed the finish line in several close games, but perhaps not as certainly as we’d want. “But we’re still on that learning curve, so I guess we’re not done with that yet.” We’re still searching for ways to improve and fine-tune things. It’s been a battle between two tremendously competitive teams in all formats.” Given that the teams were separated by a single boundary at the end of the second ODI, perhaps the game-changing moment came in Australia’s penultimate over, when Georgia Wareham smacked Lauren Bell for three sixes and two fours in a momentum-seizing over that cost 26 Sciver-Brunt, on the other hand, declined to assign clear blame to her teammate.

“Isn’t that just one moment?” We also blew a few chances in the field during our bowling innings. Out of 600 balls, it can’t come down to one or two in the whole day. Don’t little things often lead up to big things? Suddenly, five [to win] may be reduced to two or three off the final ball. But there are areas where we could have done better as a team and performed our skills more effectively.”

On a more personal level, Sciver-Brunt couldn’t be in a better technical or temperamental position. Sciver-Brunt’s performance, like Ben Stokes’s two stand-out innings in the men’s Ashes, was notable for an absence of fear and a dogged focus on an end goal that proved out of reach on this occasion. “I looked up at the scoreboard yesterday while I was playing, and I was suddenly on 40,” she explained. “I was just living in the moment.” It all slipped me by until the last 10-12 overs when I needed to pay attention to the scoreboard. We want to be able to perform and be at our best in high-pressure situations. So I was pleased, in that setting, to be able to put on such a show in such a significant time.”

Sciver-Brunt commended England coach Jon Lewis for changing her perspective in crucial moments and urging the entire squad to reframe their idea of success. And, following a series played in front of sold-out crowds, with another sell-out at Taunton expected on Tuesday, she underlined that there’s plenty more pride to play for, even if the Ashes itself are out of reach.

“I think we’ve exceeded the public’s expectations,” she remarked. “We’re putting ourselves to the test against the best team in the world, in high-pressure situations, in front of sold-out crowds in the biggest Ashes series we’ve ever had.” We want to win games for England, but it’s more about how we want to play and use that to inspire and excite the nation and those who come to watch. “Drawing the series on points would bring some pride to our performances and how we’ve gone about things.” We already have that right now, thanks to the many fans who have come to watch us and are enthused about our games. But another series victory would have an excellent ring to it.”


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