NASSER HUSSAIN: Australia are the best side in women's cricket

NASSER HUSSAIN: Australia are the best side in women’s cricket, and they’re athletic in the field, dynamic with the bat and skilful with the ball

  • Nasser Hussain has claimed Australia are the best side in women’s cricket
  • The Aussies shattered records in Christchurch on their way to securing the title
  • Having won the T20 World Cup and Ashes, they recorded a seventh time triumph

It has taken us four weeks to confirm what most people could have told you in four seconds: Australia are the best side in the history of women’s cricket.

They are an absolute machine. They’re athletic in the field, dynamic with the bat and skilful with the ball. And Alyssa Healy’s 170, in the pressure of a World Cup final, was one of the greatest knocks of all time.

Don’t forget that this innings came after she made 129 in the semi-final against West Indies. And she played it so cleverly yesterday against England. Anya Shrubsole was swinging it in and Katherine Brunt was swinging it away, so Healy waited until the ball stopped swinging, and then just laid into England.

Australia women got their hands on the World Cup with a victory over England in Christchurch

The Aussies underlined their status as the premier international sports team on the planet

Having watched one all-time great World Cup final innings, we were then treated to another from Nat Sciver, who scored two unbeaten hundreds in chases against Australia in this competition and ended up on the losing side twice. She didn’t deserve that. It was just a pity no one could hang around with her; England’s next-best score was 27 from Tammy Beaumont, and you’re not going to chase down 350-odd like that.

England have to be honest and admit that the problems in the field that cost them in the first three games of the competition came back to haunt them — they dropped both Healy and Rachael Haynes in the same over. You can’t give players of that quality a second chance.

That’s the difficulty when sides come up against Australia. Plans and tactics that work against everyone else suddenly come up short. Take Sophie Ecclestone, who finished the World Cup with 21 wickets, seven more than anyone else, and bowled beautifully. But against Australia she managed one for 148 in two games. It’s another level.

Unlike other teams, the Australian batters used their feet to combat Ecclestone’s left-arm spin, and they swept hard. They also have left-handers who aren’t afraid to smash it.

Captain Heather Knight’s go-to bowlers in the middle overs have been Ecclestone and Charlie Dean, the young off-spinner. But Australia went after both of them — Dean’s four overs cost 34 — and England were chasing their tails.

I thought it was a brave decision by Knight to bowl on a flat pitch under sunny skies, when runs on the board in a World Cup final can place opponents under pressure. The problem was she knew how good Australia are at chasing. Turns out they’re useful batting first, too.

England were the underdogs and were looking to defend the title they won in 2017

England were bowled out for 285, with Alana King and Jess Jonassen taking three wickets each

Could England have made changes to their team before the World Cup began? Their batting line-up was so full of right-handers, for instance, that they might have looked at the left-handed Eve Jones, who did well last summer. And they could have been brave and brought in young Alice Capsey at the top of the order, rather than take Lauren Winfield-Hill, who hasn’t made an ODI fifty since 2016.

They will also have some thinking to do about one or two of the senior players, especially the new-ball pairing of Shrubsole, 30, and Brunt, 36. Shrubsole in particular looked pretty emotional at the end of the game.

It’s not all doom and gloom. There are some good young players in the side — the likes of Ecclestone, Dean and Sophia Dunkley, who looks a real talent.

But the question now for those in charge of women’s cricket in England is how are they going to close the gap on Australia? What are they doing so well that England are unable to replicate? Because right now that gap is more like chasm.

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