One down, one to go, as a win in Sunday’s ODI against West Indies will likely mean that England’s women, second in the ICC Women’s Championship, will have enough points to qualify for the 2021 World Cup. It won’t be a mathematical certainty, but a realistic one, considering the games remaining for the other seven competing nations.
It’s also another opportunity to iron out the niggling shortcomings that peppered their otherwise dominant defeat of the West Indies in the first ODI on Thursday.
A 208-run win, the biggest by any women's ODI side over West Indies, might suggest a performance nearing perfection. Not however, if you’re perfectionists, as England must grudgingly accept that they are. They’ll want one batter to hit a century at least, all catches taken and another look at some of the bowlers vying for a starting spot once the Ashes come knocking.
Kate Cross, once confined to the lesser-spotted red ball, has adapted into a skilful white-ball bowler. Her one for 12 off five overs, including the wicket of Stafanie Taylor, the West Indies captain and their only real threat, showed just how valuable she can be in the third seamer slot. It might even put pressure on the hitherto unbreakable opening duo of Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole with the new ball; either way, it makes for healthy competition.
Sarah Taylor will have another opportunity to prove what she is capable of with bat in hand. She deserves an extended run as her pedigree suggests she is precisely the player to smash that sought-after century after a run-drought, but a line of others waiting in the wings may mean Amy Jones being given an opportunity with the gloves sooner rather than later.
England are not guaranteed a win, of course. West Indies are a volatile force and, like Pakistan in the men’s World Cup, have a habit of bouncing back from a presumed nadir just days before. If they are to avoid anything other than Thursday’s heavy loss however, a rise in morale and a belief in themselves is sorely needed.