Nat Sciver-Brunt reflected with pride on her record-breaking century as England brought the curtain down on their summer in barnstorming fashion by thrashing Sri Lanka.
On her 100th ODI and captaining the side in the absence of the unwell Heather Knight, Sciver-Brunt demonstrated a masterclass in controlled aggression to peel off a stunning 66-ball hundred.
It was the fastest ton in a women’s ODI by an England batter – eclipsing Charlotte Edwards’ 70-ball effort from March 2012 – as the hosts prevailed by a whopping 161 runs to seal a 2-0 series win.
Sciver-Brunt holed out for 120 off 74 balls, her third three-figure score in her last four ODI innings, having helped England draw a gripping multi-format Ashes series with back-to-back hundreds in July.
“I’m really happy to bat the way I did and continue with what I was doing against Australia as well,” Sciver-Brunt said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Sciver-Brunt was rested from the preceding three T20s between the teams, where England suffered a shock defeat, but the 31-year-old has felt the benefit of some downtime in a hectic summer programme.
She has been managing a knee problem for several months and played in this series as a specialist batter but anticipates returning to all-rounder duties on England’s tour of India before Christmas.
“The decision not to bowl post-Ashes was more to give the body a bit of a rest,” she said. “I’m looking forward to picking up the ball again. I want to influence games as much as I can.
100th ODI, and playing it in style 🤩
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) September 14, 2023
“That’s the best part of being an all-rounder and fielding for 50 overs and not really being able to influence with the ball was a little bit frustrating but I was happy to have the body break for that.
“When we play so much cricket through the summer, we probably don’t need to train too many things, just be right in the mind and body and hopefully continue that mindset that I had (in the Ashes).”
England were bogged down by Sri Lanka’s spinners in the T20s when batting first and may have feared the worst when Tammy Beaumont and Alice Capsey were dismissed early in a match reduced to 31 overs per side at Grace Road because of rain that led to the start time being pushed back by more than three hours.
But Sciver-Brunt exhibited why she is so instrumental, taking on the coterie of off-spinners and slow left-armers, punching with aplomb off the back foot and displaying her full range with fluid drives, pulls, sweeps and one scoop for 18 fours and a single six.
Maia Bouchier, featuring in just her third ODI and in her second innings in the format, provided ample support with 95 off only 65 balls. The 24-year-old opener crashed a dozen fours and two sixes in a 193-run stand from just 121 deliveries with Sciver-Brunt.
“She’s a fantastic player,” England head coach Jon Lewis said of his stand-in captain.
“It’s the calmness she brings – and I thought we saw that in abundance here. The calmness she brought to Maia in a situation when we were 18 for two, she’s come out with an authority.”
Sciver-Brunt was the first to three figures but Bouchier could have made sure her team-mate’s record lasted just a few minutes had she dispatched her 65th ball for six, only to be trapped lbw.
“I was absolutely gutted for her that she didn’t score a hundred because I know that when she does score a hundred, she’ll score a lot of hundreds,” Lewis added. “She’s incredibly talented.”
Sciver-Brunt and Bouchier underpinned a mammoth 273 for eight, a total which would have stretched Sri Lanka in a regulation 50-over game and the tourists were never in contention in the chase.
They capitulated to 112 all out in 24.5 overs, as Charlie Dean claimed five for 31, her maiden five-wicket haul for England which the off-spinner recognised was built on Sciver-Brunt’s stunning knock.
“She’s the best all-rounder in the world, the best batter,” Dean said. “She brings a lot to the team, she definitely elevates us with her standards alone.
“I guess she goes under the radar with her leadership – she’s so calm. We have so many players that can do similar but there’s only one Nat Sciver-Brunt.”