Express & Star

A Salt and battery from England’s big-hitter Phil

Phil Salt decided it was time to “pull the trigger” just before the 30-run blitz that put England on track for the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup.


Salt batted brilliantly in his side’s opening Super 8 match against the West Indies in St Lucia, smashing 87 not out from 47 balls as the defending champions romped to an eight-wicket win chasing 181.

The crowning moment came in the 16th over when the opener took down Romario Shepherd in merciless fashion, crashing three sixes and three fours to render the result a formality.

Although he made it look easy at the end, Salt showed plenty of heart to battle through some trickier moments after a bright start. At one stage, with the West Indies slow bowlers applying the squeeze, he allowed Jonny Bairstow to take over the aggressor’s role but knew when the time had come to make his big move against Shepherd.

“It wasn’t that much fun in the middle, but it was about me batting through and waiting for my time to strike,” he said.

“That was my time to pull the trigger. In the back of my head I’d decided, but I didn’t vocalise it to Jonny because I didn’t want him to say no. I knew if I could just get through that period then we’d be in good position and I could have a good dip, a good calculated risk, at one of the seamers. The first sniff I got, I had to take that chance.”

The result leaves England in a strong position as they bid to reach the knockout stage, with two points and a healthy net run-rate of 1.343 in the bank.

One more win from their remaining games against South Africa and the United States will likely to be enough to send them in to the final four.

That represents a sharp turn in fortunes for a team who came within a whisker of a rain-affected elimination in the first round and would have been gone had rivals Australia not pulled off a late turnaround against Scotland.

“To come to here and play like that against a very strong side, who are riding a wave in their own conditions, with a home crowd, is a great feeling,” added Salt.

“It’s been very stop-start for us. We had a hiccup against Australia and a rain out against Scotland, a really topsy-turvy start, and it didn’t feel like we’d played that much cricket to this point. But in tournament cricket you need confidence and momentum at the right time. To get a win against the hosts give us a first push in that direction.”

Salt’s headline-grabbing performance was far from a solo performance, with Bairstow reeling off 48no in 26 balls as he shared the lifting in a decisive stand of 97.

There was also some outstanding death bowling, particularly from Jofra Archer and Adil Rashid in the 16th and 17th overs. With a sizeable score of 200 still on the cards they put on a clinic as they conceded just six runs between them and dismissed the dangerous duo of Nicholas Pooran and Andre Russell.

A polished team effort left a smile on the face of skipper Jos Buttler, whose side look forward to doing it all again versus South Africa at the same venue on Friday.

“That was a really good performance. People say you learn when you lose, but you learn when you win as well,” he said.

“We bowled well to restrict a powerful batting line-up. We were smart with the bat too, the guys were very calculated. Jonny took the game deep and Salty broke it in one over.”