“I went away, and asked myself if I even wanted to play anymore,” Beaumont told Sky Sports at the close of a momentous third day at Trent Bridge. “I wondered whether it was time, whether I was past it … I decided I wasn’t.
“I thought, you know what? There’s life in the old girl yet. I’m only 32. So I worked hard, and changed my mindset to being as positive as possible, and get back to the Tammy Beaumont of a couple years ago.”
And so, while it would be stretching a point to suggest that Beaumont’s record-breaking Test double-century on day three of the Women’s Ashes Test was a direct retort to the selectors for their decision to ditch her from England’s T20 set-up (on 99 caps), the player herself admitted that many of the lessons of that setback had informed her innings of 208, the highest by an England Women’s player in Tests.
“It’s certainly not been on my mind the last three or four days,” Beaumont said. “Test-match cricket is very different to T20 cricket, even though the England men try to make it look pretty similar. But I think how I’ve worked this winter on my game the whole way around, that probably has had an impact in my trying to find that motivation to get better and to improve.
“I’ve worked on trying to not get hit on the front pad so much and get out lbw. That came about from trying to be more aggressive in the T20 game and access midwicket and, because of that, I’m defending the ball better, so I guess in an indirect way, that’s played a part. But it’s also reminded me that I’ve got a lot of cricket left that I want to play for England. Whether that’s in T20 cricket or not, who knows at the moment? But I certainly want to keep getting better and representing our team.”
And while she has made peace with the fact that she may never reach that coveted century of T20I caps, Beaumont acknowledged that her performances in the shortest format at regional level had played a part in her sudden ability to rack up runs seemingly at will.
“Something’s just clicked the last couple of weeks,” she said. “In the Charlotte Edwards Cup, I’d been finding a way to get out in the 40s and a lot of people tell you that kills careers, so I’m really glad that something clicked at the right time to push on and bat long. I guess I’m hitting them okay at the minute.”
Beaumont had given a hint of what was to come when she retired on 201 off 238 balls in England’s three-day warm-up match against Australia A on a Leicester pitch that was even more conducive to batting than this Trent Bridge surface. Her latest knock was perfectly timed, including sublime footwork, strokeplay and concentration spanning more than eight hours after fielding at close quarters for much of the previous day-and-a-half.
“Something that I have worked on over the last few months, is getting that mindset right and being in control of my own mind,” Beaumont said. “I used to hate meditation. I’d do it when I was really stressed and then hate it because it didn’t work. But what I’ve actually started looking at is more attention-focus.
“At tea and at lunch, I just sat there and almost was just breathing and trying to control my mind and I think that’s definitely helped me. Play and miss one, fine, let it go, breathe it out and just reset and be clear every time. I still think I’m rubbish at meditation, but it certainly feels like I managed to control that mind the whole time, and that’s what Test cricket is.”
“My body was probably pretty tired and I actually didn’t sleep very well last night, but the fact that I’ve managed to play the way I did today is all about controlling this,” she added, tapping her head.
Beaumont also remained supremely focused on the endgame throughout her innings – not least when she went to the tea break five short of her landmark, and had to navigate the attentions of the media en route to the dressing-room.
“They tried to put me off by doing an interview for a different broadcaster at tea, when I’m 195 …” she told Sky Sports. “‘Get. Off. The. Pitch!’ But luckily I just had a day out today. I was just in the zone the entire time, and I reckon the girls will tell you, I said absolutely nothing at tea … just steely eyes.”
When she passed Betty Snowball’s 88-year-old record of 189 for England’s highest individual Test score by a woman, it was also all about the bigger picture.
“When I hit the ball, I heard it was announced over the ground and Sophie Ecclestone was desperate to give me a hug and I was like, ‘no, no job’s not done here’, so I just sent her away,” Beaumont said. “I guess I was just in the zone and just wasn’t even thinking about records. I was thinking about the game situation. It’s pretty cool but it’s about the game at the minute.”
She did let her emotions, pent up for so long in a high-pressure situation, go briefly when she brought up her 200, skipping towards the dressing-room and roaring to her team-mates with a clenched fist before acknowledging the applause of the 6,951-strong crowd who had been willing her to the landmark for some time, greeting each key moment in the build up with “oohs” and “aaahs”.
“I’d been pretty calm for 300-and-however-many balls, but I thought if you’re going to score a double-hundred, you might as well really let it rip,” she said.
Beaumont even expressed disappointment that when she was the last wicket to fall, bowled trying to sweep offspinner Ashleigh Gardner who ended with four wickets, England were still 10 runs behind. Never mind that she had helped them to 463, the highest total by any team against Australia Women in Tests.
“Even when I got to 200 there, I felt like I still had a job to do, I felt like we’re still just a little bit behind and I was desperate to get those last 12 or 13 runs to get us ahead of the game. I think that would have set it up nicely,” she said, adding that with the adrenaline still pumping she had begun to reflect on an achievement that was “pretty cool to have done”.
By the close of play, Australia had pushed their advantage to 92 without loss and while Gardner said some cracks had started to appear in the pitch, which could play to her team’s advantage on the fifth day, Beaumont believed there were still runs in the surface yet. And it felt safe to argue that she knew all about that.
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor, women’s cricket, at ESPNcricinfo