In the end, it was surprisingly easy. By which I mean not only did England negotiate their run chase without any of the barriers that loomed on the horizon properly blocking their progress but I also made it to and from Canterbury via the park & ride without either getting lost or feeling the urge to shout obscenities at anyone. Triumphs all round.
The promised sun didn’t materialise until the match had started by which time South Africa had wobbled slightly with the loss of Lizelle Lee to an lbw which looked plumb but replays show would have missed the stumps. But that paved the way for a captain’s innings from Dane van Niekirk who added 103 for the fourth wicket with Laura Wolvaardt. Then, having done the hard work and built painfully steadily, the visitors were pushed into a collapse sparked by a brilliant stumping by Sarah Taylor which sent van Niekirk back to the pavilion on 95 and South Africa down from 212/4 to 223 all out.
England didn’t start well in reply. Tammy Beaumont more than rode her luck, Amy Jones made it into the 20s again before getting out and Sarah Taylor started boldly before being out for 5. But then, as van Niekirk had done, Heather Knight strode out and did what captains are meant to do. Beaumont visibly calmed and both began to play some delightful shots whilst hard running put constant pressure on the field. Beaumont made it to 105 before falling lbw and the winning runs came from four wides with 36 balls to spare. The scorecard says it was easy and in the end maybe it was, but England had fought hard for that.
There was a decent turnout. A few school groups had mixed levels of interest but most of the ground was very well populated with people who’d paid for their tickets. If the demographic was at the older end then that’s what you get for starting at 2pm on a weekday. The shop was doing a decent trade in England merch, which looked all the better when placed next to the clip art disasters that Kent seem to specialise in.
So, all in all, a decent day and a series win for England. And a personal victory as I managed to pilot a small car in the right direction both there and back. If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.