England batter wary of power-packed West Indies, whom they face after opening defeat to Australia
“We’re all really confident,” Wyatt said. “We played some fantastic cricket the other night against the Aussies. Obviously we’re gutted not to get the win, but there’s so many positives that we can take away from that game. Especially with our batting. If we can put two and two together with the bowling and the batting, it will stand us in great stead for the rest of the tournament.”
Tuesday’s contest in Dunedin could prove to be pivotal for both teams in a tight group stage, from which only four of the eight teams can progress to the semi-finals.
In reaching 298 for 8 in reply to Australia’s stiff target of 311, England laid some of the ghosts of their Ashes campaign, in which they had failed to pass 200 in any of the three ODIs. And Sciver was front and centre of their efforts all night long, claiming two of Australia’s three wickets to fall before leading the chase with 109* from 85 balls.
“She’s still as cool as a cucumber,” Wyatt said. “Very calm is our Natty, nothing seems to faze her. She’s ready to go again for training this afternoon and then for the game tomorrow. I’ve always said she’s the best allrounder in the world. Her and Katherine [Brunt] together, we’re so lucky to have them both on our team.”
“In training and matches, Nat’s always so calm and cool, which spreads around the team. The other night she bowled ten overs, was very busy at midwicket and extra cover, and then went out and hit 100 off 80 balls, so hopefully she can keep up her good run of form. She’s just amazing.”
More of the same may be necessary to keep West Indies at bay, given the power-packed nature of their line-up. In their three-run win over New Zealand, Hayley Matthews was the star turn with 119 from 128 balls, featuring 16 fours and a six. Bbut it was Deandra Dottin’s stunning final over that sealed the contest, as she delivered the final three wickets for two runs in her first bowl since September.
“They’ve got some great hitters in their team, a great bowling attack as well,” Wyatt said. “Dottin’s been around since I’ve been around. I’m getting old now, but she’s a game changer. Matthews can take the game away from you as well. But we’ll just go out there like we did the other day – nice and calm. Everyone knows their role, hopefully we’ll have fun and get those two points.
“With the Hundred and the Big Bash, a lot of us have played with and against the likes of Dottin, Hayley Matthews, Stafanie Taylor,” she added. “So we know what we’re going to come up against. We’re definitely ready for the challenge, hopefully the cricket Gods are on our side tomorrow.”
“For a few of us, this could be our last World Cup so we’ve got to go out there and enjoy every minute, and embrace the challenges”
Wyatt on England’s upcoming matches this World Cup
Despite the defeat to Australia, England’s mood in their opening fixture was notably upbeat compared to the gloom that accompanied their Ashes setbacks. Much of that has been attributed to a week of post-quarantine R and R in Queenstown, and Wyatt believes that vibe has followed them back down to the South Island, and their new base in Dunedin.
“There’s a good feel around the group at the minute,” she said. “It’s a World Cup. We played some great cricket against Australia. And we’re all really happy with the way we played. So there’s not many sad faces around. The sun’s finally come out here in Dunedin, so we’ll go for breakfast, enjoy the sights, then get really focused for tomorrow’s match.
“This is my fourth time in New Zealand, which is incredible,” she added. “For a few of us, this could be our last World Cup so we’ve got to go out there and enjoy every minute, and embrace the challenges. In many ways, it was nice to play the Aussies first up. Now we can focus on all of the other teams and hopefully get on a roll, because there’s so many positives from that match the other night against the Aussies.
“Everyone looked so comfortable, and it was small margins. You look back and think, if only I stopped that four then – or whatever – it would have been a different game. But it’s a World Cup. You’re going to be playing different teams every match. And it’s about being ready for that team, preparing well, and taking it game by game.”
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket