World Cup final: Can World No 1 Sophie Ecclestone help England take down World No 1 Australia? | Cricket News

Everyone in the UK will be able to enjoy live action of the Women’s Cricket World Cup final, with the build-up starting from 1am this Sunday on Sky Sports Main Event (401), the Sky Sports Cricket World Cup channel (404), Sky Showcase (106) and the Sky Sports YouTube channel

Last Updated: 02/04/22 11:26am

Sophie Ecclestone took her tally of wickets in this World Cup to 20 after striking six times in the semi-final victory over South Africa

Sophie Ecclestone took her tally of wickets in this World Cup to 20 after striking six times in the semi-final victory over South Africa

Sunday’s Women’s World Cup final sees the globe’s top-ranked team up against its top-ranked bowler.

Australia will enter the title game against England as big favourites, with the stats making for stunning reading for the Southern Stars.

They have won 37 of their previous eight 38 one-day internationals, all eight of their games in this tournament, including a 12-run success over England on the opening weekend, and thumping Heather Knight’s team 12-4 earlier this year in the multi-format Women’s Ashes series.

Meg Lanning’s side are without doubt the world’s best – but they do not currently have the world’s best bowler, both according to the ICC rankings and many onlookers, that honour goes to England.

Australia vs England

April 3, 2022, 1:00am

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Left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone has long sat atop the bowling standings in T20I cricket and has now ascended to the top of the ODI charts, too, above Australian counterpart Jess Jonassen, after a sensational World Cup to date – the first game against Australia aside.

On that day in Hamilton, Ecclestone was punished to the tune of 77 runs from a wicketless 10 overs, conceding 11 boundaries, including three in the final over as she bowled to Ellyse Perry.

But Ecclestone has rallied, snaring 20 wickets in seven games since the Australia thumping, with four three-wicket hauls and a superb six-for in the semi-final shellacking of South Africa.

Ecclestone ‘loves being in the spotlight’

The 22-year-old already has the most wickets by an England bowler at a single World Cup and needs four more in the final to surpass the overall record of 23, attained by Australia’s Lynn Fulston during the 1982 event which, like this year’s tournament, was also staged in New Zealand.

Ebony Rainford-Brent believes Ecclestone can become one of the greatest spin bowlers of all time

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Ebony Rainford-Brent believes Ecclestone can become one of the greatest spin bowlers of all time

Ebony Rainford-Brent believes Ecclestone can become one of the greatest spin bowlers of all time

Ecclestone has lived up to her billing as the game’s apex bowler and left Alex Hartley, writing in The Telegraph, and team-mate Danni Wyatt suggesting she has the skills to thrive in the men’s game.

The Chester-born star has six more wickets than anyone else in this World Cup, has bowled more maidens (12) than anyone else, and is the only bowler with an economy rate under 3.50.

Ecclestone’s guile, bounce, height and spin help her garner wickets and her control makes it incredibly difficult to score off her, too. Against Bangladesh, her 10 overs went for only 15 runs.

England skipper Heather Knight has also praised her character and resilience: “It is mad she is only in her early 20s.

“She is a complete bowler and has really stepped up to the big stage. I sometimes wish she had 15 or 20 overs, to be honest!

“She loves being that player in the spotlight, loves bowling those tough overs. There was one game where it was really tight and I said she was bowling the next over and she did a little fist bump and said ‘get in!’ It reminded me how much she loves being the one trying to win the game.

Watch highlights from England's 137-run victory over South Africa in Thursday's World Cup semi-final

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Watch highlights from England’s 137-run victory over South Africa in Thursday’s World Cup semi-final

Watch highlights from England’s 137-run victory over South Africa in Thursday’s World Cup semi-final

“The first game against Australia was obviously her first World Cup match and there were maybe a few nerves around. She was really disappointed with how she performed but the maturity she has shown to take in what went wrong and have the resilience to come back is brilliant.”

From net bowler to World Cup finalist

Ecclestone made her England debut in 2016 as a 17-year-old but missed out on the glory of the 2017 World Cup, at which Knight’s team beat India in the final at a sold-out Lord’s, with her parents insisting she prioritise her A-Levels.

Ecclestone said: “I was in school and my Mum and Dad said I needed to finish that before I could play cricket which was the best decision for me at the time. I went down the day before the final as a net bowler and watched from the crowd the next day.

“I haven’t won a major trophy yet since I started playing for England and I’d really love to win that sooner rather than later.

“I think there will be a few tears if we win. It would be a great moment for me and my family. For everyone, it would be a great day.

Ecclestone talks up England's chances of winning the Women's World Cup final against Australia

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Ecclestone talks up England’s chances of winning the Women’s World Cup final against Australia

Ecclestone talks up England’s chances of winning the Women’s World Cup final against Australia

Pundit and former England player Ebony Rainford-Brent expects Ecclestone to have many more great moments: “She is able to handle pressure situations – not just handle them but take the game on.

“She has always had the skillset, the height and a brilliant action, but I think her character, her calmness and the skill she was worked on is showing.

“She is a real asset and that’s what you want, players at the top of their game. There are going to be a lot of young girls trying to emulate her

“There is another decade in her so who knows what she could achieve? She could be one of the greatest spinners of all time, without doubt.”

Ecclestone and England were down after losing their first three World Cup games - but are now on a five-match winning streak

Ecclestone and England were down after losing their first three World Cup games – but are now on a five-match winning streak

‘I’m playing a sport I love with some of my best mates’

For Ecclestone, stats, world rankings and external praise are at the back of her mind. “I don’t really look at that too much,” she added.

“My friends and family back home definitely do and they are all so proud of me but I just enjoy my cricket, playing a sport I love with some of my best mates. I am lucky to do that.

“Beating the Aussies in the final, I can’t really put it into words after the Ashes we had. I really believe in this group and on our day we can definitely beat them – we’ve got a great chance.

“We’ve shown how good we can be and the girls showed in the 2017 World Cup how good we are. Hopefully we can play our best cricket to prove the side we are.”

Ecclestone is certainly playing her best cricket and if she does so again on Sunday that elusive major trophy she craves might just come her way. She could be on top of the world in more ways than one.

Watch the Women’s World Cup final between England and Australia for free on Sky Showcase, PICK and the Sky Sports Cricket YouTube channel from 1am on Sunday. The game is also being shown on Sky Sports Cricket World Cup and Sky Sports Main Event.


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