HOWZAT: England's Katherine Brunt, centre, took a wicket with her first ball against Sri Lanka. Picture: PA Wire.
Katherine Brunt looks around at teenage team-mates half her age and sees loud-mouth boxers who have never been knocked down.
“They talk a good game, they feel they’ll never lose, they’re the best ever,” she says. “And that’s the kind of arrogance you need.”
Brunt is not long for the world of international cricket. She will step away while in some of the best form of her life after the conclusion of the sport’s Commonwealth Games debut.
The 37-year-old is surrounded by her legacy - young opening batters and bowlers backing themselves and record-breaking crowds at pretty much every game here at Edgbaston.
Brunt set the tone for an embarrassingly emphatic win over New Zealand, ripping one through the defences of Sophie Devine with the fourth ball of the game.
Then the young guns had the platform to perform with Issy Wong taking two and Alice Capsey slugging four fours to break the back of a nominal target.
To see them shine in front of a crowd of 10,892, the biggest for a women’s cricket match in this country since the 2017 World Cup final at Lord’s, was to glimpse a golden future.
Brunt said: “It takes a lot to step out into a crowd like that and put yourself out there in front of thousands of people.
“They love it. They’re not intimidated, they’re confident people and they’ve got it in abundance. They need to keep learning and they’ll get better and better.
“I’m glad they’ve got it because I feel that’s been a key ingredient for myself and my career.”#
Nat Sciver will lead this squad as far as they go at the Games in the absence of Heather Knight with a hip injury.
Knight is still very much part of the group, but the big on-field calls are now down to Sciver.
She doesn’t have to say much to her wife, Brunt, but does need to hold the hand of the likes of 17-year-old Freya Kemp and Wong in pressure moments.
Sciver said: “In an ideal world I’d have bowlers who are as experienced as Katherine and let them go, to let them set their own fields and things like that.
“When we’ve got less experienced bowlers, you must work with them in different ways. I want to give them confidence and get them to want to do well for us.”
India awaits in Saturday’s semi-finals and the unstinting aggression of Wong, and the bowling battery will be crucial to limit openers Smriti Mandhana and Shafali Verma.
It doesn’t sound like Wong plans to take a backward step any time between now and Sunday’s final.
“We try to be really aggressive with our powerplays,” says Wong. “We know that if we get off to a good start, that’ll put us in the best position.”
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