A tearful Katherine Brunt is unsure about continuing her record-breaking England career after they signed off from the Commonwealth Games without a consolatory bronze medal.
With a narrow semi-final defeat to India still fresh in the memory, England seemed unable to rouse themselves to face New Zealand and limped to 110 for nine in their third-place play-off at Edgbaston.
New Zealand captain Sophie Devine and Suzie Bates put England’s total in a harsh light with a 54-run stand in 4.3 overs before the White Ferns cruised to an eight-wicket win with 49 balls to spare.
Brunt finished with nought for 23, including having to bowl a nine-ball over at one stage, which would represent an unflattering end for England’s leading wicket-taker in one-day and T20 internationals.
But when asked whether she will end an England career that started in August 2004, the 37-year-old said while wiping away tears: “I don’t know. I need to reflect.
“I’ve got to get up in two days and play (for Trent Rockets) in The Hundred, which is savage. But that’s life and sport. I need to reflect on that bit and see where I’m at and what my next goal is.”
England had beaten New Zealand in 19 of their previous 21 T20s, including in the group stage three days earlier, but the tables were emphatically turned in a match that spanned less than two and a half hours.
Barely 12 hours after their gold medal hopes were ended by Australia, New Zealand were disciplined in the field and only England captain Nat Sciver showed any sign of impetus in her 27 from 19 deliveries.
New Zealand win and claim the Bronze medal. pic.twitter.com/hq1KxPPzBp
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) August 7, 2022
She had her middle and off-stumps uprooted by opposite number Devine, who followed up figures of two for 11 in three overs with an unbeaten 51 from 40 balls, fittingly sealing the first women’s cricket medal to be awarded at these Games with a single after Sciver spilled a running catch at mid-on.
Brunt said: “This is really hard. The feeling is gutted. We’re a lot better than that, we’re a finalist team. On a personal level it’s my one and only shot at that, so I’m obviously taking it quite badly.
“Everything is heightened when you get to the end of your career. Things seem to mean a bit more and other things seem to slip away a bit further. That game against India was brutal
“Normally playing international cricket for England, it shouldn’t be any different, but it did feel different, it felt like the actual whole country was behind us. We’re sad we let them down.”
While England defeated New Zealand by seven wickets and with 50 balls remaining on Thursday for a third group win from three, the Kiwis lost one fewer wicket and needed just one more delivery to seal victory on Sunday.
Sciver, who has been captaining the side for the entire tournament in the absence of the injured Heather Knight, said: “Very disappointing. But the way we played we didn’t deserve to get a medal.
“It’s a bit easier to take than Saturday.”
England’s match against India drew almost 20,000 fans to Edgbaston, with cricket making its return to the Games after a 24-year absence, which could be a significant step towards the sport’s inclusion at the Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028.
Reflecting on the possibility and the past few days, Sciver said: “It has been an incredible experience and I think the crowds have showed that people have really loved coming to watch whatever team it is.
“I’d love cricket to be in the Olympics but we will see. I’m sure we will be feeling the boost that we will get from the Commonwealth Games for the next few months and this summer. Hopefully next summer as well. I’m sure the Olympics can have the same affect.”