Tammy Beaumont: Silencing naysayers with aplomb

Tammy Beaumont celebrating her century © Getty Images

When Tammy Beaumont came out to open for England in the third ODI against the Proteas, there was an air of steadfastness around the 31-year-old batter. Her body language emanated willpower scorching enough that it helped her surpass a significant rise in the mercury at Leicester on Monday.

She was greeted with a bouncer upfront in the form of a free-hit from one of the most feared pacers in the circuit in Shabnim Ismail. Beaumont tried executing a ramp in response but missed it.

Ismail pitched the next three deliveries up and followed it up with another bumper. But this time Beaumont was vigilant. The slightest of back and across movements and she dismissed it from her presence in front of square as the ball raced towards the fence.

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The pull shot got her and England’s boundary count for the game underway sublimely. That was one of the significances of that stroke that most eyes could trace. But there was a massive underlying facet about that shot – the quest to showcase her (Beaumont’s) worth as a batter.

Tammy Beaumont acknowledging the reception © Getty Images

Beaumont is not one of those batters who throw caution to the wind, she is in fact far from those. She is rather a traditionalist, a staunch one, who has her own method pertaining to the cult of batting.

The boundary on the fifth delivery of the match to Ismail was the first of 18 more that she went on to hit during her innings in addition to a maximum. She eventually aggregated 68.90 per cent of her runs through boundaries. When a knock is so high in terms of boundary count, people will likely make it (boundary count) the talking point. But that’s not what happened.

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When Laura Wolvaardt was asked to comment on Beaumont’s knock, the South African opener extolled her English counterpart not because of her boundary count but rather for her method of occupying the crease.

“She batted incredibly well today. It was a really good hundred in tough, hot conditions. She is really a great player overall. She is really busy at the crease, which I think can be difficult for the bowlers. She moves around a lot and uses her crease really well. She played really well today.”

Barring a boundary that came off Nonkululeko Mlaba’s bowling in the 22nd over, when an outside edge flew through the vacant third region, Beaumont was in control of every other shot that yielded a boundary.

Her knock clocked a strike rate of 111.21, which is way more than her overall ODI career strike rate – of 73.10.

Tammy Beaumont on the way to her ninth ODI ton © Getty Images

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When asked whether she wanted to prove a point, she laughed and said, “I think it was probably right at the very back of my mind,” Beaumont said. “You don’t score runs thinking about things other than the ball, and one ball at a time. As one of my trusted friends told me a couple of days ago, you’ve got to go one ball at a time if you’re going to get anywhere so no, it wasn’t really front and centre.”

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Beaumont’s omission from England’s CWG squad came as a shock to many. But in a media interaction after the selection, head coach Lisa Keightley said she believes there’s room for growth in the England opener’s ODI game while she is still one of the top batters in the 50-over format.

T20 cricket is akin to extempore. You often don’t know what’s coming and rely on second-guess for success. The format demands you to improvise and be quick-witted to grab every opportunity that comes your way.

On the other hand, ODIs are like debates where you get some time in advance to prepare. Despite the basic difference, some elements are common in both formats. The most significant is the fact that as a batter in T20 cricket, you cannot continue to go hell for leather even if the opposition bowlers are riding the crest of the wave. You have to dig in and weather the storm.

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And you can only execute the same if you have someone good at that craft.

Beaumont’s T20I record suggests that she can strike at a rate of close to 109 and also has a century in the format (a feat that not everyone who proclaims to be a dasher has) to go with ten half-centuries. And her ninth ODI ton exhibited that once set, she can accumulate runs as quickly as required.

But there is a clear change of intent on display from England in terms of their squad selection for CWG 2022; that they are willing to trade security for flamboyance.

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The 31-year-old admitted to being gutted after being axed from the Commonwealth Games squad.

“I was obviously pretty gutted about a week ago when I when I found out but it was just a case of trying to find a way to get myself in the best headspace to play the last couple of games,” Beaumont said. “I guess it is what it is. I hope that in the future I’ll get another go in T20 cricket.

“I hope I’ve got a lot more to give for all formats for England but massively wish the girls the best of luck. I think it’s a really exciting team to go in and maybe bring that gold home but yeah, gutted that I won’t be there.

Had it been some other player, then the dismay of missing out on selection for such a mega event would have weighed her down. But not Beaumont. She remained in the inner sanctum of her batting values and still produced a reply befitting enough to mute her detractors.