The build-up to a Semi Final and Final of a World Cup is something completely different to any other sporting tournament. The emotions that you experience before the matches, and after, are heightened to the ‘nth’ degree and you become acutely aware of everything that is going on in your surroundings.
We qualified second in our Pool which meant a Semi against the dangerous West Indies three days later in Colombo. Those three days were long and painful as at this stage of the tournament, you just want to play and you certainly don’t need time to stew over what is approaching.
The weather in Colombo was definitely hotter than what we had gotten use to in Galle. When preparing for a Semi Final you feel like you should be training even more when probably you should be taking it easy.
I decided not to watch the first Semi between England and New Zealand. Instead I used the rare free time to actually have a nana nap as the tour and heat was getting to me. Others chose to watch the game to see how the wicket and both teams played. The other reason I didn’t want to watch the game was the fact that we needed to win against West Indies in order to play the winner of the other Semi, and there was no need to get ahead of ourselves. Focus on the job at hand, don’t get too caught up in the future I say.
Our Semi Final was scheduled to start at 2.30pm so everyone had the morning off. It is interesting to observe how people cope with nerves. The majority stayed in their rooms on their computers, tweeting and Facebooking. Others went through the notes that they had taken on the West Indian players, whereas I tried to just keep myself busy.
I replied to some work emails and managed to find a movie that was just what I needed, Aladdin. I hadn’t seen the movie in ages, but why not reminisce your childhood when the only pressure you faced was not to be the last chosen at school sport? I wasn’t immune to the nerves which is something that I hadn’t felt since the 2009 World T20 when we played against England. I think it was the fact that we wanted to get into the Final and were expected to beat the West Indies purely based on consistency at this level. This didn’t detract from the simple truth that there were players within the team that could win them the game, which was shown in the preliminary games when they beat New Zealand.
The team meeting prior to our departure only increased everyone’s nerves, but thankfully Fitzy had ensured that we finished off the meeting with some highlights of squad bonding camp where we had to get into a soft boxing ring and punch each other with massive soft Mits that were bloody heavy…that certainly lightened the mood and we were off.
During the trip to the ground I had a strange sensation of pins and needles in my legs and I was thinking to myself how I was going to be able to perform. Thankfully, once we arrived, I realised it was just another game and noticed that everyone else started to relax into it.
As a group and as individuals, we had prepared for this match extremely well and I put my faith in that and tried to control what I could instead of letting my mind wonder to the plenty of negative, and sometimes positive thoughts.
The match wasn’t our best in the batting department as the West Indies bowled and fielded extremely well. We had lost a few quick wickets and were in a little trouble. Alex and I went about rebuilding the innings by just getting up and down the wicket. When I went trying to find the boundary, the next few batters continued the flow of runs with Rach hitting over the boundary to give us a reasonable total to defend.
Surprisingly, our fielding and bowling has been letting us down this tournament but the batting department was gelling quite nicely. Therefore, we were going to have to fight for this win as the West Indies weren’t going to roll over and give it to us on a platter.
Our start couldn’t of been any better as we really restricted their scoring shots and had plenty of dots balls on them. I opened at one end and managed to bowl the same ball for three overs. They found it difficult to get away so I stuck with that and only went for six runs off my four overs. At the other end, Pez came steaming in and picked up the wicket of Taylor then a few overs later set up Dottin brilliantly. Dottin, one of the cleanest striker of the ball, has struggled with Pez’s bouncer so her first delivery she waited on the back foot, instead her off stump was knocked out of the ground – you little beauty!
From there we applied even more pressure and at the end Jules picked up five wickets as the West Indies were bowled out for 87. When the last wicket fell everyone was excited about that meant. We had just booked a spot to play England in the World T20 Final and that feeling doesn’t get any better, or does it?