‘Good reflections’ around mental game help Jones play the long game in opening ODI against New Zealand

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Amy Jones really wanted to be there at the end and, fortunately for England, she was.

After a string of single-figure scores, Jones re-evaluated her mental approach to batting and the result was an unbeaten 92 which led England to victory over New Zealand in the opening match of their ODI series in Wellington. This was when the tourists had collapsed to 79 for 6.

“A tricky situation talk out into, and over the last week, to be honest, I’ve had some good reflections on areas that I want to improve in terms of being there at the end,” Jones said. “It’s something that I feel like I’ve fallen short at over a period of time. So I just put a bit of thought into it, really, a bit of work around my mental game. For that to pay off today, it ranked quite highly, I’d say.”

England were 58 for 5 when Jones walked to the middle and, when Amelia Kerr bowled Danni Wyatt for just 16 it looked like New Zealand could well defend a modest total of 207 after Kate Cross, Lauren Bell and Charlie Dean had combined to bowl the hosts out inside 49 overs.

But Jones and Dean shared a record 130-run partnership – the highest for the seventh wicket in women’s ODIs – to see their side to victory with Dean not out on 42. Without run-rate pressure, the fact that the pair was able to accumulate without taking risks was key to their success and, incidentally, formed the crux of Jones’ new mindset after scores of 2, 9, 6 and 6 not out in her previous four innings as England beat New Zealand 4-1 on the T20I leg of the tour.

“Firstly, it was just recognising where my mind was going in those past situations and there’s definitely an element of feeling like I needed to force a boundary and get ahead of the rate,” Jones said. “So with those reflections, realising that I don’t need to do that, I play at my best when I’m reacting to the ball, so that doesn’t change depending on the situation. Today me and Deano especially, we were just constantly saying, ‘One ball at a time,’ and just reacting, just kept in the moment, which was good. I thought we played with freedom and did what we set out to.”

Amelia Kerr – standing in as New Zealand captain for Sophie Devine, who is recovering from a quad strain she suffered during the fourth T20I – praised the England duo.

“We knew we had to take wickets to win and we did that and then Amy Jones and Charlie Dean had a great partnership and we couldn’t find a way to break it,” Amelia Kerr said. “We’ve got to look at ways how we can break that moving forward, but also you have to say ‘well played’ to them. I thought they were outstanding. Charlie Dean did her role and supported Amy Jones and Amy Jones showed her class and got a big score and it just shows when someone bats through and bats deep, that often wins teams games. Unfortunately, we didn’t have anyone today do that for us.

“The fight was outstanding. To have them four down and six down for not many I thought gave us a real sniff and we were probably one wicket away from winning that game. Good international teams bat deep and they know how to build partnerships and they absorb pressure and they formed that partnership and unfortunately, we couldn’t find the breakthrough. I thought they played really well. But definitely up top, the character of the fight and the energy was outstanding to get quality players out early and give us a real chance.”

‘Over the last week, to be honest, I’ve had some good reflections on areas that I want to improve in terms of being there at the end.’

Now 1-0 down in the three-match series ahead of Thursday’s second game in Hamilton and having seen how it worked for England, Amelia Kerr indicated her side would discuss building partnerships as a way of turning their fortunes around. Suzie Bates and Bernadine Bezuidenhout shared an opening stand worth 90 but a middle-order collapse of 4 for 20 proved costly for the White Ferns.

“We didn’t get a big enough partnership with the bat, so that’s a big one for us,” Amelia Kerr said. “We’ve got to be pretty happy with our effort with the ball, especially up top, maybe in the middle, obviously that one wicket, but yeah, I think it’s just partnerships with the bat is key. They showed what you can do when you get yourself in.”

Cross was hugely impressive for England, bowling a tight six-over spell to begin with and claiming 2 for 24, including the wickets of Georgia Plimmer and, crucially, Amelia Kerr. That was after playing only a Test in India in December and one match for England A against New Zealand A last week since September.

Jones said: “It’s one of Crossy’s strengths, she knows what she’s good at and she can repeat it over and over and she’s been very consistent for us for a number of years now. So to see her come in and I’m sure she would’ve been feeling some nerves, having not played in a while, but we couldn’t tell and the way that she was bowling was right up there with her best.”

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor, women’s cricket, at ESPNcricinfo

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