England suffered heartbreak on the grandest stage as history makers Australia blasted their way to a record-extending seventh Women’s World Cup title at the Hagley Oval.
Meg Lanning’s side shattered Heather Knight’s hopes and dreams, and many records to boot, as they simply outclassed their opponents to lift the biggest trophy in the sport once again in Christchurch.
Australia, who have lost just one of their last 38 ODIs, went into the final as overwhelming favourites after breezing into the showpiece with an impressive perfect 100 per cent record.
And they showcased why they are widely considered as one of the best sporting sides in the world as they added the 50-over trophy to their T20 World Cup win and recent Ashes triumph.
England were huge underdogs to retain the trophy they won back in 2017. But they were desperate to turn the tables on their old rivals after being hammered Down Under just weeks before their title defence began.
They turned their faltering form around with five wins on the spin to give themselves a shot at becoming the first team since Australia in 1988 to successfully defend the Women’s World Cup.
But normal service resumed after Captain Knight, who stressed she did not regret the decision, decided to bowl first in perfect batting conditions. And if Knight does not rue that costly error, then she will definitely rue the dropped catches which lost her team the final.
England dropped Alyssa Healy, who went on to become the first ever women to surpass 500 runs in a World Cup, and Rachael Haynes — who finished with a hefty 497 herself — in the same over.
Player of the Tournament Healy smashed a phenomenal 170 off just 138 balls, the highest ever score in either a Men’s Women’s World Cup final. And her opening partnership of 160 with Haynes, who made 68, was also a Women’s World Cup final best as Australia amassed a huge 356-5.
🌏 Three months on the other side of the world representing their country
🦁 A fight back from the jaws of World Cup elimination
💪 A team that give everything for each other
❤️ A group of players that make us proud
Nat Sciver batted superbly to score an unbeaten 148, but England were never really in contention after being set a mammoth total, which would have been a world record run chase in Women’s ODIs, and were eventually bowled out for 285.
A crestfallen Knight admitted: "It has been a rollercoaster of a tournament. There is pride at the way we've fought and come back after the three losses. There are a lot of positives. The fact that we've shown that character and resilience to turn it around and be within a shot of winning the World Cup. Unfortunately, one win was too many for us.
"I guess we didn't quite find an answer [to Australia's batting]. It was an amazing wicket, and if we had kept them to just about 300, probably par, we were in with a good chance of chasing it down.
“You can judge the decision to bowl first in hindsight, but I wouldn’t change it.”
Successful skipper Lanning was understandably ecstatic after the dominant win and after lifting the trophy she said: “We’ll celebrate this one pretty hard! I'm really pleased with that. This tournament has been a long time coming - it has been in the back of our minds and there are no doubts we wanted this trophy in our cabinet. It has been an amazing effort over a number of years and to finish it off like this is amazing.
"Healy's knock was incredible. To do it in a World Cup final, I am probably not surprised, to be fair she's done it before as well. To be able to come out and play so well, to play those shots she was playing was ridiculous.”
Australia won by 71 runs to win 2022 Women’s World Cup
Australia 356-5 (50): Healy 170, Haynes 68, Shrubsole 3/46
England 285 (43.4): Sciver 148*, Jonassen 3/57, King 3/64