Nat Sciver: Only Hits And No Misses; And Definitely No Pauses!
Sciver was the lone-warrior against South Africa in SF (AP Photo)
Around six days prior to the big semi-final clash featuring England and the Proteas women, a leading face of English women's cricket was in a peculiar spot that had absolutely nothing to do with cricket.
She wasn't anywhere in the stadium. She wasn't amid her mates and was definitely not in some traditional cricket setting or even in remote proximity to any cricketing gear.
Snuggled up on a chair and sitting with a semblance of grace, there was an interviewer opposed to this leading light of England women's cricket and so popped a question:
"Where would you say the women's game is at now, for it has radically changed from where it was?"
Pausing, if only, for a brief second and reflecting after some contemplation, there came a reply, "the Women's game is at the crux of something special."
Truth be told, if Women's cricket is indeed in this phase where things are special, then it's because it has a certain Natalie Sciver in the midst of it.
That's not all; in fact, it's the very beginning.
If Women's cricket has come a long way, which it questionably has, then it's because it is being powered by the exploits of cricketers who are as rare as they come; talents like Nat Sciver.
Nearly a week from that Sky Sports interview, the very woman who was being quizzed on that chair was in the midst of, arguably speaking, the most vital game that her English side competed in.
But that day, her bat talked, which was as per normal.
For as long as Nat Sciver occupied the crease, which was for 48 minutes, to be precise, England stayed in hunt of what you'd say was a daunting ask: 165.
In the women's game, chasing anything north of a 145 or 150 is no child's play.
This then was a semi final of a World Cup.
But Nat Sciver was at it again; her 40 from just 34 kept England occupied and perhaps much in play.
But with the asking rate climbing northwards with nearly every ball, the slower one bowled rather deceptively by de Klerk prompted the right hander to offer a lofted stroke.
The end result was that the fielder stationed in the outfield was in action.
Nat Sciver turned around and began the slow walk back. But that wasn't before she had top scored for her side, once again. Only Danni Wyatt and Heather Knight were the other batters from the team to enter the thirties.
In the previous contest as well, she was right in the thick of the things and when England sought that big win.
She tore apart Fatima Sana, punished Sadia Iqbal and left little to the imagination in her clinical takedown of Nida Dar, the great legend.
Nat Sciver batted with vehemence and yet, with that customary touch of class; the rasp cuts, the fluidity in the on drives, it all broke Pakistan's composure.
In scoring an unbeaten 81 runs, Sciver horsewhipped Pakistan with a stick as her strike rate crossed 200.
We don't see too many fifties in an important clash of a World Cup that balloons to a scoring rate that would quite simply choke the confidence of England's opponents.
But Nat Sciver is no ordinary joe; she means business nearly every single time she steps on to the field.
What most of us like about Sciver is the sheer excellence with which she conducts herself for a side that's nearly as powerful as Australia. She cuts no corners. She gives an absolute hundred per cent on the field akin to champions who've ensured the game continues to prosper: think the Lanning's, the Perry's, the Harmanpreet Kaur's and the Taylor's.
But her true significance in the current annals of England women's cricket stems from the fact that in this post Sarah Taylor, Jenny Gunn and Laura Marsh era, Nat Sciver has pulled her side from what could've been a strain given the exit of several big match players.
Sciver assures thanks to her grit and composure, at least, 30 plus runs in a T20 and nearly 40 or more in a 50-over contest, which tantamounts to several in case the top order simply misfires.
Moreover, having Nat Sciver-Brunt out in the middle just assures that all's not over for as long as the Tokyo-born, Poland-raised English great occupies the crease.
She gave a fine example of that in the last edition of the Women's ODI World Cup, when in the high-octane final with England chasing perhaps a crazy 357, Sciver, quite seriously singlehandedly pushed her side to the nearabouts of a 300 when nothing of that sort ever seemed certain.
While there was the top order on the one hand that made just 57 between them, Nat Sciver on her own amassed 148 runs.
Australia, powered by Healy's incredible 170, crushed England but just couldn't get past Nat Sciver, their last hurdle.
It is true that the greats glitter amid gloom. And when it comes to Natalie Sciver-Brunt, who at 30, is peaking nearly every single game, it seems England, who are already a powerhouse, are about to bloom.. and ever so much in the times to come.
Trivia: in the recently-completed T20 Women's World Cup, Nat Sciver was dismissed on only 3 of the 5 games, in two of which she crossed a fifty.