‘I’ve got too big a drive to stop’ – Katherine Brunt

Over the past fortnight of international action, in both men’s and women’s cricket, there’s been no place to hide if you are a toiling fast bowler. Records have been obliterated wherever you care to look – from New Zealand women’s 490 against Ireland, to England men’s 481 against Australia, to England women’s 250 in a T20 against South Africa at Taunton last week.
“Yeah, it does make you question why you do what you do,” says Katherine Brunt, England’s veteran quick bowler, with the sort of lugubrious air that Angus Fraser might have cultivated in his pomp.
“There’s not much fun in it any more. One of the main things our coach tells us now is accept you are going to get hit, the pitches are that good and the balls don’t move off the straight so you have to be very highly skilled at variations and consistent lines and lengths.
“You mainly have to accept the fact that you are going to get smashed a few times, you have to keep working hard and you’ll get your rewards that way.”
However, Brunt, who turns 33 next week, is not half as downcast as she might like to let on – not even when the conversation turns to the astonishing wicketkeeping skills of Sarah Taylor, whose half-volleyed leg-side stumping off Dane van Nierkerk at Taunton was a bittersweet moment for the fastest bowler in England’s ranks.
“It’s actually demoralising,” she says. “It makes me think I can’t be that quick if you can just do that! But I’ve played with Sarah since she was 16, so I know what she’s capable of. It wasn’t a massive shock to me, but for people watching it’s jawdropping. You do have to take a moment to say that was pretty special, but I bet if you asked her, she’d say it’s not as hard as you think.”
But realistically there is little reason for Brunt to grumble at present. England’s women are riding the crest of their post-World Cup wave, having out-muscled South Africa in a closely fought ODI series before providing some quality entertainment in the opening rounds of the T20 Triangular, for which they are virtually guaranteed a berth in Sunday’s final at Chelmsford after a pair of hard-hitting wins over both opponents.
“The venues have been great, the crowd attendance has been great, the feedback’s been brilliant, the media support too,” says Brunt. “And the weather has been incredible, we’ve been melting down in Bristol for the past two days. All of our games seem go down to the wire at the moment because the teams are so evenly balanced, and that makes for really good entertainment.
But it doesn’t work quite so well for the state of my nails, or getting heart attacks midway through games!”
With three wickets at 19.66 in the campaign to date, Brunt has done her bit for the cause with ball in hand. But increasingly, she is being trusted as a frontline batting option – not least in the world-record 250, when she was pushed up the order to No.4 with licence to give it some humpty, and duly walked off the field 16 balls later with 42 not out to her name.