Eng vs NZ, 1st T20I – ‘More the merrier’ for Sarah Glenn as England thrive with four-spin attack

Sarah Glenn appreciates that she is part of a “really special” time for England spinners.

Her legspin yielded a triple-wicket over in a haul of 3 for 16 as England romped to a 59-run victory over New Zealand in the first of five T20Is which are key to both sides’ preparation for the World Cup in October. The haul came as part of an enviable four-pronged spin attack which took seven of the nine wickets to fall at Southampton. Off-spinner Charlie Dean took 2 for 28 while world No. 1 Sophie Ecclestone and Linsey Smith – playing her 12th T20I but only her third since June 2019 – took one wicket each.

“The more the merrier, I love it,” Glenn said. “Linsey has just been consistently performing for a really long period of time now, especially in the powerplay, at the death, and we all just bring something so different and I just felt it was really effective, so it was nice to see us all come together.”

With England captain Heather Knight saying on match eve that her side wouldn’t be afraid to experiment during this series as they look to finalise their squad for the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in October, Glenn said she felt comfortable in a spin-heavy side.

“It doesn’t really change much,” Glenn added. “You’ve just got an extra opinion, which is actually quite nice. If there’s a couple of spinners that might be struggling or anything like that, or you just want some advice, you’ve just got more people to speak to, and we obviously all bring something different. If anything, it’s just more of a strength. We’ve got more people to talk to who might be going through something I’m going through out there, so I think it’s really good.

“It’s five games as well, so we’ve got plenty of time to practice those things, but also against a top-quality team, who will put us under the pump, so I think it’s really good prep.”

Glenn’s three wickets included the vastly experienced batters Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine, upon whom New Zealand rely heavily. Bates top-scored for the White Ferns with 43, but Devine fell for for a duck that she described at the post-match presentation as “horrendous”. In her absence, Jess Kerr was their second-highest scorer on 38 batting at No. 8 as they attempted to chase down a lofty target of 198, after Danni Wyatt’s 76 and Nat Sciver-Brunt‘s 47 had led England to 197 for 3.

England’s margin of victory was their highest in T20Is against New Zealand and could have been even greater were it not for a rash of dropped catches and misfields. But, with the hosts in a buoyant mood, Glenn was confident they could rectify their fielding errors.

“Some of them, we made it into a good effort to get there and there were quite a few dives as well,” she said. “There were some simpler catches put down, but I think the fact that we’re getting in powerful positions to give ourselves even a chance of catching those balls is really good for us. If we just keep focusing on that and our intent, it’ll put us in good situations.”

England’s spin-heavy line-up required the omission of their strike seamer, Lauren Bell, with the fast-bowling duties instead shared between two allrounders who have only recently made a return to full-time bowling: Sciver-Brunt, whose workload has been managed all summer as she recovers from a knee problem. and the left-armer Freya Kemp, who suffered a back stress fracture on England’s trip to the Caribbean at the end of 2022.

In her second England appearance of the summer, Kemp made an unbeaten 26 from 17 balls batting at No. 4 and bowled her full allocation for figures of 4-0-30-1. She bowled during England’s tour of India last December but, after a flare-up, reverted to a batting role for England A in New Zealand earlier this year, against Pakistan in May and in regional cricket.

Bates admitted that, despite best-laid plans, New Zealand had been bamboozled by England’s spinners. But she had faith in her side to counter-attack during this series, which moves to Hove on Tuesday.

“They’ve got such a clear game-plan,” Bates said. “The powerplay, they use their swing and pace and then Ecclestone, Glenn, Dean come on and really squeeze you and we’ve talked about that, but it’s about executing in the middle. I think today we got ahead of the game slightly in the powerplay and that makes playing the spinners easy. But when you need boundaries they can bowl at the stumps and defend. So we’ve got to be brave to take them on, whether that’s behind the wicket or in front of the wicket and just keep being aggressive.

“They’ve probably got one of the best spinning attacks in the world, Ecclestone leading from the front, and when you’ve got an off-spinner, a leg-spinner – Glenny, and Linsey they added today, there’s some world-class players so they’re obviously tough through the middle. If we can keep taking the game on and keep backing our shots, I think we are going to be able to get them in trouble at some point in the series.”

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor, women’s cricket, at ESPNcricinfo

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