England v New Zealand Commonwealth Games 2022

England v New Zealand Commonwealth Games 2022

You wouldn’t necessarily know it by watching her rip opposing players’ stakes out of the ground in true, vintage Brunt fashion. But with the specter of retirement looming as England close in on their goal of winning a Commonwealth Games medal on home soil, it’s not exactly the blow of the past.

Brunt has not set a date for her retirement, at least not publicly. But after claiming to have played her last Test during the Ashes in January, she recently told ESPNcricinfo that whether she calls time on her international career after the Commonwealth Games or continues with the T20 World Cup next year, the end will be “very soon”.

“Everyone has ebbs and flows,” Brunt said, again reflecting on the struggles he faced while struggling with his actions during England’s tour of Australia and then New Zealand for the ODI World Cup.

“I had a lot of questions for myself and I worked extremely hard in the last three months before this tournament. So it’s funny because I’m feeling good, I’m playing good and it’s hard to let things like that go. So yeah, there’s a lot going on in my head right now.”

She was speaking after claiming two wickets for just two runs in her first two overs to send New Zealand into submission as they posted just 71 for 9 from 20 overs during their final group game. England won by seven wickets with 50 balls to spare to secure top spot in Group B and avoid favorites Australia in the semi-finals. New Zealand will face Group A leaders Australia in Saturday’s second semi-final, which will be played in the evening UK time, after England take on India in the day’s match.

Brunt has enjoyed an excellent tournament so far. She finished Thursday night’s match with 2 for 4 from three overs as she took 1 for 16 and scored an unbeaten 38 from 23 balls in a 26-run win against South Africa and took 1 for 8 from three overs as England beat Sri Lanka by five loopholes.

Her fourth ball against New Zealand was a chip that sent the leg stump to Sophie Devine, a ball she added to her arsenal under previous England Women’s coach Mark Robinson.

“He challenged me to become a better player,” Brunt said. “He has seen a lot of 30-year-olds who are not able to improve their game at this stage. Either you disappear or you get stronger.

“It was a challenge and I wanted to prove him wrong, to step up, so I won a few balls and that’s my banker, and I take it out when I have to, against who I have to. I’m really happy to have taken this at such a late stage in my career.”

Brunt’s eighth delivery was similar but quicker and hit the top of mid-stump off Amelia Kerr as New Zealand slid to 10 for 2. Next up, Issy Wong, the 20-year-old fast bowler representing England’s next wave of seamers bowling, took 2 for 10 from her three overs, including the tournament’s leading run-scorer, Susie Bates, to put New Zealand in dire straits.

Brunt was full of praise for the likes of Wong and left-hander Freya Kemp, who is just 17, as well as Alice Capsey, who sits second to Bates in the tournament’s scoring charts. All three England youngsters made their international debuts in the bilateral series against South Africa just before the Games and took to the task with ease, appearing to relish the atmosphere of a 10,000-plus crowd at Edgbaston.

“I know for a fact that they love him and they’re not afraid,” Brunt said. “They are very confident people and you can’t play international sport without confidence and arrogance in a healthy way.

“It’s like boxers, isn’t it? They talk a good game. They say they’ll never lose, they’re the best ever, and that’s the kind of arrogance you have to have because it takes a lot to go out in a crowd like that and expose yourself to thousands of people. I’m glad they got it because I feel like it’s a key ingredient for me in my career.”

Devine, the New Zealand captain, joked that the end of that illustrious career could not come soon enough.

“To be perfectly honest, me and Suz [Bates] said we can’t wait for her to retire,” Devine smiled. “She’s been pestering us for 15 years. She is simply outstanding. She defies her age and her skills are incredible, so total respect that she can still run and bowl the way she does.

“She’s a really crafty player. She’s probably not as fast as she used to be, she’ll be the first to admit that… I hope so, because otherwise she’ll probably send me a few beams. But a really smart bowler and she has led this team well. She will leave a huge hole when she retires, which we hope will be very soon.”

Valkyrie Baines is Editor-in-Chief at ESPNcricinfo

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