England captain Heather Knight says she has “no regrets” over her decision to field first in the Women’s World Cup final.
Asked to bat, Australia amassed a record 356-5 to set up a convincing 71-run win in Christchurch.
“It was probably a 50-50. The stats at the ground, particularly under lights, are strongly in favour of chasing,” said Knight.
“You can judge the decision in hindsight, but I wouldn’t change it.”
In perfect batting conditions at the Hagley Oval, Australia opener Alyssa Healy made 170 off 138 balls, the highest score by any batter – male or female – in a 50-over World Cup final.
Australia’s total was the highest in a women’s final and the highest made against England in a one-day international.
England were bowled out for 285 – the second-highest total in a women’s final – despite 148 not out from Nat Sciver.
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“It was one of those where you wouldn’t have been unhappy if you’d lost the toss,” Knight told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“It showed it was probably the right decision. It was a good wicket to chase on if we had more wickets at the end there and if someone had batted with Nat.
“I felt like if we could get a few early wickets it would give us the best chance of winning. There are no regrets.”
‘A rollercoaster of a tournament’
The defeat means England surrendered the title they won on home soil five years ago.
To even reach the final marked a remarkable turnaround from the beginning of the tournament, when they lost their opening three matches.
“It has been a rollercoaster of a tournament,” said 31-year-old Knight. “There is pride at the way we’ve fought and come back after the three losses.
“There are a lot of positives. The character and resilience in the group to turn it around shows volumes about this group.”
Victory underlined Australia’s status as the premier international sports team in the world.
With only one defeat in 39 ODIs, they can now add the 50-over world title to the T20 World Cup and Ashes crowns they already held.
“We’ll certainly celebrate this one pretty hard. It has been coming for a long time and it has felt like we’ve been waiting for it,” said Australia captain Meg Lanning.
“It has been an amazing effort over a number of years and to finish it off like this is amazing.”
England are now tasked with a finding a way to close the gap on the Australians.
They will come up against them in a Twenty20 competition in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer.
The next T20 World Cup is in South Africa in early 2023 and will be followed by a home Ashes series later that year.
“It will take time to digest what went wrong,” said Knight. “Credit to Australia – they have outplayed us on the biggest stage.
“They have been outstanding in this tournament. The way they are so ruthless with their partnerships is something we can really learn from.”