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Tammy Beaumont hits brilliant century as England beat New Zealand in last ODI

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The England and Wales Cricket Board may have had a troubled relationship with women’s county cricket in recent years – the Women’s County Championship was abolished in 2019 and the future of the County T20 Cup is uncertain – but Kent remain rightly proud of their women’s team. Before play in the fifth England v New Zealand one-day international on Sunday, they presented four of their most distinguished servants with county caps.

One of that number was Tammy Beaumont, who has represented the county for 14 years and began the summer by declaring that she was “desperate to play” county cricket again. Unfortunately, the lack of Covid-19 biosecurity surrounding women’s county cricket – which is officially classed as “recreational” – put paid to that ambition.

Related: England beat New Zealand by 203 runs to win fifth women’s ODI – as it happened!

Fitting, then, that Beaumont’s summer ended with an eighth ODI hundred at Kent’s Spitfire St Lawrence Ground, as after a rare run of four matches without a half-century she came roaring back with a brilliant 102 from 114 balls, including 11 fours, an innings that earned her a standing ovation. It came amid a mammoth total of 347 for five – England’s sixth highest in ODIs – and after struggling with the bat throughout the series the hosts ended the summer in style with a comprehensive 203-run win, wrapping up the series 4-1.

“At times our batting has fallen a little bit short this series, so to go out with a bang and get over 300 for the first time in a while was really good going,” Beaumont said. “It’s a special moment for Kent to recognise all its past cricketers. Playing here really does feel like a homecoming.”

New Zealand’s run-chase had started sedately and, with Anya Shrubsole hooping the ball around in the way only she can, receded from there. Suzie Bates skied one to Beaumont at point in the seventh over and after a five-over spell from Kate Cross, suddenly New Zealand were 66 for five. Though Brooke Halliday cracked a couple of gorgeous drives en route to her 27 it was only ever a stay of execution – Heather Knight (three for 24) wrapping up the tail.

This was a dead rubber but for England’s batters, with a winter Ashes series directly followed by the 50-over World Cup in New Zealand, the chance to bat themselves back into form was too good to miss. Beaumont’s partners included Lauren Winfield-Hill (43), Nat Sciver (39 off 38) and Amy Jones (60 off 46), all hitting their highest scores of the series.

Only Knight got out cheaply, tickling a catch to Martin behind the stumps and departing for a duck, but after Thursday’s century a rest for her hamstring might be no bad thing. England’s batters certainly lived charmed lives – Winfield-Hill was dropped four times, on five, 15, 24 and 40; while Sciver and Dunkley were both put down in single figures and Jensen shelled a caught-and-bowled from Jones on 33 – but they made it count.

Beaumont’s was perhaps the only chanceless innings of the lot – New Zealand burned through both their DRS reviews against her in vain – and only a rare miscue to a diving Suzie Bates at mid-on in the 44th over ended the show. That dismissal, though, merely paved the way for fireworks from Sophia Dunkley (33 not out off 25) and Danni Wyatt (43 not out off 20), Wyatt hitting four huge sixes, including one which came perilously close to smashing a window in the block of retirement flats located at deep square leg. This series has been far from a walkover, but Kiwi captain Sophie Devine’s assessment of Sunday’s match as “one of those games that you just flush down the dunny” spoke volumes.

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