Alana King provided a fitting tribute to the late, great Shane Warne with a match-winning leg-spin performance to deliver Australia a 12-run victory over England in their opening Women’s World Cup fixture in Hamilton.
King produced one magic ball in particular that Warne would have been proud of, luring Tammy Beaumont, set on 74, into coming forward before beating the edge. Alyssa Healy did the rest, just as her uncle Ian had so often done with Warne.
On taking the wicket, King pointed to the black tape on her arm in memory of both Shane Warne and legendary keeper Rod Marsh, who also died yesterday.
King also dismissed Sophia Dunkley and Amy Jones to end with an analysis of 3/59.
Rachael Haynes’ commanding century had put Australia in prime position for the win, with the opener smashing 130 in 131 balls in the first innings.
On an emotional day for Australian cricket, Haynes and captain Meg Lanning’s 86 powered Australia to 3-310, leaving their Ashes rivals the daunting prospect of a world record ODI chase to win.
Led by centurion Nat Sciver, England made a fist of it, needing 16 runs off the last over only to finish 12 short at 8-298.
Jess Jonassen then produced the magic in the final over, taking a one-handed catch to remove Katherine Brunt off her own bowling to get Australia home.
Speaking at the toss, Lanning said the overnight death of legendary spinner Shane Warne a day after the passing of Rod Marsh was felt deeply through the team.
“Losing Rod (Marsh) and Shane over the past couple of days has been very sad … they were two icons of the game who have made massive impacts,” Lanning said.
“A very sad time and hopefully we can do them proud today.”
The arch-rivals shared a sombre moment prior to play at Hamilton’s Seddon Park, impeccably observing a minute’s silence.
Alyssa Healy made the early running for Australia but departed after chipping to mid-wicket for 28.
Haynes and Lanning spluttered through the next hour under England’s squeeze, the run rate hovering under four.
The captain and vice-captain made good on their labour at the half-way mark, lifting their scoring to both notch half-centuries in the 31st over.
They powered on, boundaries flowing until Lanning was dismissed in the 43rd over after a mighty 196-run stand.
Haynes allowed herself a wee smile for her first World Cup century, swinging freely until she finally found a fielder with just seven balls left of the innings.
Beth Mooney (27 off 19) and Ellyse Perry (14 off 5) pushed Australia through the symbolic 300-run barrier.
The mighty score was Australia’s second best World Cup innings — behind only their 1997 clubbing of Denmark, when Belinda Clark made 229 in Australia’s 3-412.
England made a calamitous start, losing Lauren Winfield-Hill for a first-over duck when she drove Megan Schutt’s delivery to Annabel Sutherland, who took a magnificent diving catch.
They should have been 2-6 when Tammy Beaumont edged Darcie Brown to Lanning in slip, only for the skipper to drop a regulation catch.
Beaumont didn’t look back, she roared to 50 off 54 balls as England kept on pace with their Herculean task.
Tahlia McGrath made the breakthrough, tempting Heather Knight into an uppish drive that went straight to cover, where Lanning made amends.
From that point, England lost 4-84, two each to tournament debutants McGrath and King.
The loss of Beaumont (74 off 82) was a turning point, the dangerous opener stumped by Healy after she was beaten in flight by King, who then thumped her armband commemorating her idol Warne.
The irrepressible King was later struck in the shin by a Sophia Dunkley shot, only to get up and bowl her the next ball.
At that point, England looked shot at 6-232, only for Sciver to produce late-innings heroics.
Sciver thrashed an unbeaten 109 off 85 to make Australia sweat, but ran out of partners.