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Nat Sciver: The girl who is keeping the England flag flying sky-high

Last updated on 01 Jul 2022 | 09:38 AM
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Nat Sciver: The girl who is keeping the England flag flying sky-high

Amidst the chaos surrounding the performance of the England team, Sciver has single-handedly guided the team out of the muddle time and time again

"I can’t really see women’s Test cricket evolving at any particular speed."

A couple of weeks prior to South Africa's first Test in seven years against England away from home last month, ICC Chairman Greg Barclay said in a conversation with BBC. For someone who is at the helm of affairs of the highest governing body in the sport, it sent shock waves across all the women's players and the board. 

The timing of the statement raised plenty of eyebrows, especially since the last red-ball game between Australia and England went down to the wire. 

Although the players expressed their disappointment over the news in various capacities, it was time for South Africa and England to showcase their skills in the longest format to shut down all kind of detractors.

There is a reason why Test cricket is believed to be the most riveting form of the game ever since its inception almost a century ago. And, across four days of action filled with ebbs and flows, we feel that women's cricket deserves more Test matches - in a five-day format. 

While the first innings at Taunton witnessed a masterclass from Marizanne Kapp, England were well and truly chasing leather on the first day as the visitors managed to score 284 runs in the first innings. After a decent start in their pursuit of South Africa's total, England were 76 for the loss of their openers when Nat Sciver walked in to take centre- stage. 

Along with skipper Heather Knight, the 29-year-old steadied the ship with some solid defence and accumulated the ones and the twos to keep the scoreboard ticking.

However, she lost partners on regular intervals, and suddenly, the home team were tottering at 121 with half their side back in the pavilion. With the onus of the side relying heavily on her shoulders, the right-handed batter found an able ally in Alice Davidson-Richards. 

Despite a challenging situation, the vice-captain of England was yet again at the forefront of resurrecting the innings after the top-order had failed to deliver. The duo weathered the storm and forged a partnership of 207 runs for the sixth wicket that turned the fortunes of the game in favour of England. 

En route to their partnership, Sciver gently pushed the ball to cover and scampered through for a quick single, accomplishing her dream of a hundred in the purest form of the game. 

While the match ended in a nail-biting draw after relentless showers forced the players off the field on the final day, it also helped us realize how much the fans and the players are longing for a five-day Test, considering the result and the impact it can have on the sport. 

While England have started the home summer well, the last seven months have been a roller coaster ride for the team with a plethora of changes in the personnel. 

Despite entering the World Cup as the reigning champions, not many people gave them a chance post their multi-format series defeat to Australia away from home.

"I feel like a lot of people have sort of written us off in a way. I remember we had a lot of people trying to call us favourites last time, and you know, we're still the holders of the World Cup, so I think you write us off at your peril, really," said Tammy Beaumont ahead of the mega event. 

While most people were spot on with their opinion on the defending champions as they suffered losses in their first three outings, England vowed to stage a comeback. 

With tears rolling down after their shock defeat against West Indies for the first time in history and being outclassed yet again by the all-around brilliance of Kapp, England were battling for survival. 

However, it was Sciver yet again to the rescue as she produced scores of 45, 61 and 40 against India, White Ferns and Bangladesh in the remaining three league fixtures to ensure England qualified for the semi-finals and keep their dream of defending the world title well and truly alive. 

With dominating performance in the semi-final against Proteas, England were all set to rekindle their rivalry against Australia in the bid for the ultimate prize. 

And moments into the game, England were on the receiving end of one of the greatest knocks in the history of the sport as Alyssa Healy smashed 170 off 138 deliveries to power Australia to 356 runs in their quota of 50 overs under the night sky of New Zealand. 

The world champions were under the pump due to dismal bowling and fielding performance on a day that mattered the most, and not many people gave them a chance in the second innings. 

After reeling at 38 for two, in walks Sciver at number four, hoping to yet again help England crawl out of the challenging situation. 

In the next 90 minutes that followed, the world of cricket were enthralled by an exhilarating display of strokes all around the ground as Sciver crafted her way to an unbeaten 148 runs off 121 deliveries studded with 15 boundaries and one massive hit over the fence.

"We knew we had put a pretty good total on the board, but we knew their lineup, and they were peaking at the right time," reveals Healy on the discussion in the huddle before Australia stepped onto the field. 

Well, not sure if England were peaking at the right time, but it was Sciver who, despite not getting any support from the batting unit was single-handedly ensuring the team got over the line from situations not many imagined could have been achieved. 

There ain't any doubt that she is the catalyst behind England's resurgence and will surely go down as one of the greatest players the nation has produced. 

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