Charlie Dean’s stocks are rising fast and her best is yet to come
Charlie Dean’s first wicket of the 2022 ODI World Cup was South Africa’s captain Sune Luus.
In South Africa’s chase of 235, England desperately needed to break the partnership of 74 runs between Laura Wolvaardt and Luus. A flighted delivery from Dean drew an error from the right-hander, and the ever-alert wicket-keeper, Amy Jones, whipped the bails off before Luus could land her back foot. True to her reputation, Dean had snuffed out another big wicket.
Interestingly, for Dean, the reputation of bagging the big wickets under pressure started with the wicket of Jones in the inaugural season of The Hundred back home in July 2021. Playing for London Spirit at Edgbaston in Birmingham, she rattled Jones’ middle stump to turn the innings in her team’s favor. Jones had cruised to 33 off just 16 balls and Spirit needed a breakthrough, which Dean duly provided.
Her next two wickets in the competition were Fran Wilson and Danielle Wyatt, both international cricketers. Her reputation as a big-wicket taker was growing. “I didn’t even notice the pattern,” Dean told Women’s CricZone last August when asked about this happy knack. “It is pretty cool to even bowl against the players of that caliber. To be able to pick up a few wickets is brilliant as well. Amy Jones was a special wicket for me just because it was my first wicket and I bowled her.”
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Heather Knight’s side fell short of the knockout stage of The Hundred, but Dean was second in the wicket charts for her team, behind Indian international Deepti Sharma.
In her second ODI in English colors, she ran through New Zealand’s lower-middle order. A rain-affected match went in England’s favor after Dean’s four-wicket haul dented the Kiwi hopes while chasing a moderate total of 197. Knight praised the newest off-spinner in the post-match presentations. “Charlie Dean was exceptional with the ball. (New Zealand) were on top until the rain-break, then she came in and bowled like that, which was impressive,” she said.
Dean followed up that four-wicket haul with a three-fer in the fourth ODI in Derby. This time she bowled former New Zealand captain Amy Satterthwaite and trapped current captain Sophie Devine in front to turn the momentum towards England. Playing her first-ever series for England, Dean topped the wicket charts with 10 wickets in five matches. It appeared like England had finally found an off-spinner with the potential to fill the giant hole left by Laura Marsh and Danielle Hazell.
Following a dramatic debut, it came as no surprise that Dean earned a spot in England’s World Cup squad, but she had to wait a while before she got an opportunity to take the field. After narrowly missing a victory against South Africa, England entered the re-match of the 2017 World Cup final against India, without a single point on the table. Dean was introduced in the 17th over and she made an immediate impact. Combining with Jones, she dismissed India’s vice-captain Harmanpreet Kaur, who had smashed a century against West Indies in the previous game, for just 14. Two balls later, Sneh Rana, India’s savior with the bat against Pakistan, had to trudge back to the pavilion without scoring a run. In her fifth over, Pooja Vastrakar was trapped in front, and India had been reduced to 88 for six.
Dean bagged the Player of the Match award and earned a pat on the back from England pacer Anya Shrubsole as well. “I’m absolutely buzzing for Charlie – this is obviously her first World Cup – she is 20 I think – and to bowl as well as she did in obviously what was a really high-pressure game – two wickets in her first over and she just really I guess backed up the early wickets. I’m over the moon for Deano – she’s someone who’s really popular amongst this group – a seriously talented cricketer,” Shrubsole said.
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The match against hosts New Zealand was England’s only chance to stay alive in the tournament. A clash between the hosts and the defending champions with unpredictable weather just raised the stakes even more. England opted to bowl first and Dean broke the vital third-wicket partnership between Amelia Kerr and Satterthwaite. Kerr, who continued her purple patch since her return to the international cricket, mistimed a sweep shot and was caught by Shrubsole. Dean added Satterthwaite to her wickets tally once again by trapping her in front.
After these blows in the middle-overs and with Devine out of the action due to back issues, New Zealand never really found a way to score runs in the first innings and were bundled out for 203. Dean had done her job with the ball by adding a few more big-name players to her kitty.
In the nervy chase, Dean and Shrubsole held their nerve to keep England’s knock-out hopes alive.
Knight once again, lauded the efforts of the 21-year- old playing her first ICC tournament. “She is a wicket-taker, which is sometimes rare for an offspinner. She goes for runs but (is) also very attacking and threatening, which we want her to be. She has been brilliant and picked up wickets at key times. Chuffed for her, she has come in and done really well,” Knight said.
England pacer Kate Cross summarised Dean’s journey perfectly in the post-match press conference. “I guess, The Hundred that we’ve got domestically back home is what prepares these young girls now to come in and play international cricket. That step up now isn’t as drastic as it used to be. So Charlie played in The Hundred probably, which wasn’t too dissimilar to the kind of the crowd that we’ve got today and the pressure that was on her, but she keeps it nice and simple.”
“We’ve got a lot of young talent, got girls out on the bench who haven’t played much cricket for England, but when they come in, hopefully, they’ll be able to put the hand up and get a good performance in – but Dean has been brilliant. She’s great in the field. She’s energetic, and like I said she just keeps it simple,” Cross added.
Dean is the one of the first products of the system and one hopes not the last. She has stepped up beautifully in her short international career so far and there’s much to look forward to.