All-round Ashleigh Gardner stars as Australia lift the World T20 trophy

Maryam Mallick
25 Nov 2018
All-round Ashleigh Gardner stars as Australia lift the World T20 trophy

Meg Lanning of Australia in action. ©ICC

Australia claim the World Twenty-20 title for the fourth time! The number one ranked T20 side now have the silverware to show it. They register a convincing eight wicket win over the 50-over champions and Ashes rivals England, with 29 balls to spare to lift the trophy.

England won the toss and elected to bat first, with Tammy Beaumont and Danni Wyatt opening the batting. Wyatt showed intent early, taking 12 runs off the first over. Megan Schutt and Ellyse Perry then did well to pull back the run rate. Despite some dropped catches, at the end of the Power Play, England were on 36-2. Beaumont and in-form Amy Jones were back in the hutch, Jones on the back of a brilliant run out by Georgia Wareham. While the rest of the batters struggled, Wyatt found form scoring 43 off 37 balls, though she was given a few lives. Captain Meg Lanning then showed her side how it's done, taking a good catch to dismiss her.

Perry reached the milestone of 100 T20 wickets, but that was also not without its fair share of drama. In her first over, she created a caught-behind chance, which was dropped by Alyssa Healy. The following over she bowled, there was a run out and finally, in her third over, she had Natalie Sciver caught leg before wicket. Sciver referred it to the third umpire, so Perry had to wait some more to celebrate, but the original decision withstood. Some controversy surrounds that with Sciver seeming very convinced she got some bat on it.

After the fall of Wyatt's wicket, England struggled. They collapsed from 64-3 to 105-10. Skipper Heather Knight was the only other batter to provide some resistance, scoring a 28-ball-25. No other batter reached double figures. Consequently, Australia were chasing a low total in the final.

Ashleigh Gardener took three wickets for 22 runs from her allotted overs. Schutt and Wareham took two wickets each, with Wareham missing out on a hat-trick after taking two wickets in two balls, and Perry claimed a scalp.

In reply, Australia got off to slow start, Sciver giving only two off the first over. Anya Shrubsole,  then faced the brunt of Healy's destruction in the next over, which went for  14 runs, including three boundaries. England bounced back to dismiss Healy in the fifth over, Sophie Ecclestone bowling her when she exposed her stumps, looking to play on the off-side. Healy had to walk back for 22 off 20, her lowest score of the tournament. At the end of the Power Play, Australia were travelling along nicely at 37-1.

With Mooney back in the dugout for 14, Gardner and Lanning continued charging ahead. Gardner smashing three enormous sixes, Lanning content with rotating the strike in their 62 run partnership. Lanning went with the classic 'drop-and-run' to score the winning runs as Australia registered a comprehensive eight wicket win to claim the title.

Shrubsole, contrary to her usual role as the hero of finals, was expensive today, conceding 30 runs off her three overs. Dani Hazell and Sophie Ecclestone were the bowlers to take wickets as the spinners struggled due to the dew.

A few tears were seen in the England squad as the Southern Stars rushed on field. The initial celebration was followed by the teammates huddling together to belt out the theme song, their emotions spilling across.

For her all-round brilliance, Gardner was named the Player-of-the-Match, and it came as no surprise that four-time Player-of-the-Match award winner and leading run scorer of the tournament Alyssa Healy, was adjudged the Player-of-the-Tournament. "It's pretty special. Here's to many more to come with this squad," expressed Healy on her teams' future success, after collecting the award. While her captain Lanning remarked, "The last couple of World Cups haven't gone our way and we were ready to do the job today."

The score remains that England has never beaten Australia in an ICC event final. Will it stay so in the next tournament. We will have to wait until 2020 to see that.