Australia’s victory over England in the Women’s World Cup confirmed their reputation as the world’s best international sports team.
In Christchurch, the Australians obliterated records on their route to adding the 50-over World Cup to their T20 World Cup and Ashes titles.
Alyssa Healy hit the highest score in either a women’s or men’s World Cup final, smashing 170 off 138 balls. Her 160-run partnership with Rachael Haynes, as well as Australia’s 356-5 total, are both women’s final bests, with the latter being a record for any side versus England.
England, who were massive outsiders to defend their crown from 2017, will be kicking themselves for opting to bat first in ideal batting conditions. Healy and Haynes were also dropped in the same over.
In the face of such a massive chase, England lost too many wickets to ever be in contention, although Nat Sciver batted brilliantly for a century of her own.
When England were finally wiped out for 285, Sciver was 148 not out, with spinners Alana King and Jess Jonassen each taking three wickets in Australia’s 71-run victory.
It was a heartbreaking finish to England’s remarkable comeback, which saw them reach the final after losing their first three games.
Meanwhile, with a perfect record of nine wins from nine matches, Australia was declared world champions for the seventh time.
The expectation was that England would need everything to go their way to beat an Australia team that had only lost one one-day international in their previous 38 matches.
Given England’s – and Australia’s – preference for chasing, Heather Knight’s decision to give up the opportunity to bat first appeared like a gift.
The defending champs squandered the opportunity to put pressure on the Australians, who controlled the game throughout.
England’s bowling was not particularly poor, but the dropped catches were a major setback. Healy was playing some ridiculous strokes by the end, scoring runs at free.
Despite Sciver’s outstanding innings, the game was basically gone before halftime, with the most dramatic World Cup ever failing to reach the final it deserved.
Healy scored a century in Australia’s semi-final victory over the West Indies and then went on to deliver one of the greatest one-day innings ever.
In the face of some searching new-ball bowling, Australia took only 37 runs from the opening ten overs, making the onslaught all the more surprising.
When the drops arrived in the same Kate Cross over, Healy and Haynes, who made 68, were just starting to run through the gears. Haynes, who was 47 at the time, eluded capture by posing as a diver. Healy had 41 when the ball ripped through Sciver’s clutches at mid-wicket, and Danni Wyatt wasted a chance at point.
Healy’s signal to go into overdrive came when he reached a half-century from 62 balls. She scored from all over the field, toying with England by hitting the ball where a fielder had just been moved. Healy’s second 50 came from 38 balls, and her third off only 29.
Beth Mooney arrived after Haynes miscued to point and bludgeoned 62 from 47 balls in a stand of 156 in just over 16 overs. In a final ten overs of mayhem, Australia scored 120 runs.
Healy had hit 26 fours and become the first woman to reach 500 runs in a single World Cup by the time she was stumped off Anya Shrubsole.
Inside a sold-out Hagley Oval, everyone stood to honour Healy, Australia’s match-winner and player of the tournament.