England v South Africa: first women's ODI – live!















































WICKET! Gunn c Lackay b Tryon 4 (England 80-7)














































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WICKET! Wyatt c Luus b Khaka 7 (England 64-6)

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WICKET! Sciver c van Niekerk b Khaka 16 (England 61-5)























































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WICKET! Beaumont b Khaka 6 (England 39-4)



















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WICKET! Knight lbw b Kapp (England 29-3)










WICKET! Taylor lbw b Ismail 2 (England 24-2)

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WICKET! Jones b Ismail 19 (England 20-1)









































































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Heather Knight wins the toss; England to bat










Welcome to England vs South Africa at New Road!

It is the start of a new summer for England’s women, hosting the first of three ODIs against the side that came so close to knocking them off in the World Cup semi-final the last time they met. Of course, as we know, Anya Shrubsole made sure of the result lashing the penultimate ball of the game to the rope and they all lived happily ever after.

It was the game of the tournament, the Proteas proving in the process that they are a legitimate force in the women’s game after making up the numbers for so many years. The image of their skipper, Dane van Niekerk, in tears at the side of the pitch when the winning runs were scored sticks in the memory. They are a serious cricket team.

From the XI that won the final a few days later in the famous Lord’s triumph, spinner Alex Hartley and middle-order accumulator Fran Wilson have made way. In the case of the tweaker, she’s a victim of a very strong spin division inside the team. As Mark Robinson said when I asked him during the week, the left-armer lost confidence and form after her brilliant 2017. Wilson has been replaced by Lauren Winfield, who is back after losing her spot for the India tour earlier this year.

On that trip – the last time Heather Knight’s side played – they were the beaten finalists in a T20 tri-series against India and Australia before losing a three-game ODI series 2-1 against the hosts. But that was without experienced matchwinners Katherine Brunt and Sarah Taylor, who were both rested. They are back today at Worcester.

Their opponents today were also beaten by India 2-1 this year in the 50-over format. Despite the fact that the World T20 is the main game for both sides in 2018, all of these ODIs are played for ICC Championship points. In short, that league decides the four automatic qualifiers for the next World Cup in 2021. Last time around, South Africa had to reach the main draw the hard way. It’s a good system, giving context to every ODI.

In their one official warm-up game, they were beaten by an England Academy side by four wickets. But the good news from that was that 20-year-old opener Laura Wolvaardt collected a half-century. As we learned during their World Cup campaign last year, her cover drive is something to behold. Plenty of those today, please.

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