Solid Tammy Beaumont ensures England have a platform to build on
Stand still, head forward, big stride forward or back, play straight. Tammy Beaumont was happy to follow this routine on the first day’s play of the one-off Test between England and India at the County Ground in Bristol Wednesday (June 16). She probably knew that the inswinger troubles her. She definitely knew that the world knew about it.
And so all hooping inswing deliveries from Jhulan Goswami and Shikha Pandey were met with a straight bat. Many were bunted to mid-off, some pushed back to the bowler, and a couple crunched to mid-on as well. The forward press was prominent too. For fourteen balls she was watchful – playing the ball as late as she could, pinching the odd single, and basically, taking her time. But on the fifteenth ball of her innings, she pulled a short, harmless delivery from Pandey to the deep square leg boundary and you just knew she was in good nick.
It wasn’t a bad start by the Indian seamers, Goswami, Pandey and debutante Pooja Vastrakar. Perhaps, if one were to nit-pick, it could be said they were too straight at times, attacking the stumps, instead of bowling in the channel in and around off stump and enticing the drive. That is probably why three of Beaumont’s first four boundaries came through the on side.
But the diminutive English opener was up to the task when given an opportunity to free her arms. A half volley outside off from Vastrakar was driven with pristine timing past the bowler, through mid-off for four. And just like that, a watchful Beaumont headed off for lunch with an unbeaten 44 to her name, having taken her time to face 84 balls.
Beaumont revealed her mantra in that morning session in a chat with Lydia Greenway while walking off. “We wanted to settle in and win that first hour,” she said, looking as fresh as a daisy.
“We have looked at how the England men have changed their approach and how their openers now go about winning that first session by getting 60, 70, 80 and then capitalise later on because you’ve got wickets in the shed,” she said.
An aspect of her game that Beaumont put to good use was the sweep shot. Earlier in the year, she displayed the various types of sweeps in seam-friendly conditions in New Zealand. Come Wednesday, on a surface that proved to be slow – almost “dead” even – she pulled out a spectacular array of her trademark scoops, laps and paddles, milking the spinners with much ease. Her attempts earned her the praise of former England captain Charlotte Edwards.
“Beaumont has carried on her form from the winter, where she was in such good form against New Zealand,” Edwards said on Sky Sports.
“What I love about her is that she is playing her paddle and sweep shots; that’s her strength and you mustn’t forget your strengths in Test cricket.”
And so, a paddle it was that got Beaumont her second Test fifty. She took 99 balls to get there. She used her feet well against Sneh Rana’s off-spin, charging down the track and belting her past mid-on for four. She added 71 runs for the second wicket with skipper Heather Knight.
The footwork eventually led to her downfall as well, when she failed to get to the pitch of a Rana delivery, poked at it with hard hands, and lobbed a catch to a tumbling Shafali Verma at forward short leg. But the opener had done her job.
Beaumont’s recent scores read: 89, 21, 57 (Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy), 14, 63, 25 (T20Is versus New Zealand) and 88*, 72*, 71 (ODIs against New Zealand). And with her latest knock of 66 off 144 balls at the County Ground in Bristol, she ensured England had a platform to build on.