England have been playing knockout cricket for the last four matches at this World Cup
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KATE CROSS: This World Cup campaign has been a bit of a rollercoaster and the toughest tour I have ever been on… but we’ve believed from the start we could go all the way and we’re in no mood to go home just yet

  • We’ve been playing knockout cricket for the last four matches at this World Cup 
  • It helped England because we’ve had no option but to produce performances
  • We’re a match for any side and that’s the attitude we’ll have in the semi-final 
  • I’m hoping the games mean we’ll be battle-hardened against the South Africans

We have been playing knockout cricket for the last four matches at this World Cup, so at least we have had plenty of practice of must-win matches going into the semi-final against South Africa.

It is fair to say the tournament has been a rollercoaster for England, with defeats by Australia, West Indies and South Africa themselves followed by wins over India, New Zealand, Pakistan and Bangladesh. 

And I think it helped that our backs have been up against the wall for the last four games. We have had no option but to produce performances.

England have been playing knockout cricket for the last four matches at this World Cup

 England have been playing knockout cricket for the last four matches at this World Cup

It helped that our backs have been up against the wall: we've had no option but to perform

It helped that our backs have been up against the wall: we’ve had no option but to perform

We have believed from the start of the competition that we could go all the way. On our day, we are a match for any side — and that is the attitude we will be taking into the semi-final. South Africa are a very good team, as they showed by pulling off that thrilling chase against India the other night. 

But we should also remind ourselves that we bowled them out for 130 in one of the warm-up games. We know we can beat them if we play to our potential.

We were obviously close to going out earlier in the competition, though. If we had failed to qualify, I would have replayed the moment I was run out by a deflection at the non-striker’s end against West Indies with only a few runs to win over and over again. Deep down, I know I should have been in my crease. 

The run-rate wasn’t an issue, so I didn’t need to take that risk. After the South Africa game, I came off the field thinking we couldn’t qualify for the semis, so once we worked out it was still possible it helped focus our minds.

We bowled South Africa out for 130 in one of the warm-up games, so we know we can beat them if we play to our potential

We bowled South Africa out for 130 in one of the warm-up games, so we know we can beat them if we play to our potential

If we'd failed to qualify, I'd have replayed me being run out against West Indies over and over

If we’d failed to qualify, I’d have replayed me being run out against West Indies over and over

One of the turning points for me came before that match when our fielding coach Michael Bates told us that one of the few areas we could control was in the field — an area that had let us down to that point. 

I know we then missed a couple of chances against South Africa’s opener Laura Wolvaardt but in general we have improved since and showed what we were capable of during the win over India.

A combination of the tense matches and Covid restrictions has made this the toughest tour I have been on but I have learned valuable lessons about keeping things as simple as possible.

I've not always managed to take the wickets I'd like, but I have been able to exert some control

I’ve not always managed to take the wickets I’d like, but I have been able to exert some control

I have not always managed to take the wickets I would like but I have been able to come into the attack and exert some control and learned off the field how to conduct myself when I’m emotionally shattered. I think it took me four days to recover after our win over New Zealand.

The fact is, you have got no choice in a competition like this, where the standard has been so high. If you dwell on things for too long, it will all catch up with you.

But we have had a fortnight now of knockout matches, which I’m hoping means we will be battle-hardened against the South Africans. This World Cup has been a great advert for the women’s game, and we are in no mood to go home just yet.

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