Speaking immediately after Sunday’s loss to New Zealand at Edgbaston, tears rolling down her cheeks and her voice wavering, the emotions were too raw for Brunt to make any announcement on her future.
“I don’t know,” Brunt said when asked if she had played her last game for England. “I need to reflect.
Brunt described Sunday’s defeat, built on an excellent all-round bowling performance from New Zealand – led by Hayley Jensen and 18-year-old Fran Jonas – and an unbeaten half-century from captain Sophie Devine as one of the toughest of her career, which has been going for as long as Jonas has been alive.
“On a personal level, it was my one and only shot at that so obviously I’m taking it quite bad. I’m exhausted. I’ve given it everything I’ve got and I can live with that.”
“Everything is heightened when you get to the end of your career,” Brunt said. “Everyone will experience it. Things seem to mean a bit more, other things seem to slip away a little bit further. As long as I can hold my head up high and know I gave it everything I’ve got.”
Despite her vast experience – perhaps because of it – England’s Commonwealth Games campaign on home soil meant a huge amount to Brunt, who said the team wanted to win a medal for the host nation.
“It felt like a lot,” she said. “You’re doing it for your country. Normally, playing international cricket, I play for England, it shouldn’t be any different but it did feel different. It felt like the actual whole country was behind us and we’re just sad we let them down.
“We couldn’t quite do it. On a personal level, it was my one and only shot at that so obviously I’m taking it quite bad. I’m exhausted. I’ve given it everything I’ve got and I can live with that.”
England fielded a side featuring two 17-year-olds in Alice Capsey and Freya Kemp plus 20-year-old Issy Wong and all three newcomers performed admirably. In fact, England enjoyed a strong campaign despite losing captain Heather Knight to a hip injury before the start.
They went undefeated through the group stage, including a thumping seven-wicket win with 50 balls remaining against New Zealand, before the latter turned the tables to win by eight wickets with 49 balls to spare when the bronze medal was on the line.
But it was England’s semi-final defeat on Saturday to India, who were set to play Australia for the gold medal later on Sunday, that did the damage. That match was even more fraught for Brunt, who received an official reprimand and one demerit point for using an audible obscenity when she had a catch dropped off Deepti Sharma.
Brunt admitted that England found it hard to recover from that defeat while conceding that New Zealand wouldn’t have had it easy trying to overcome their semi-final loss to Australia.
As it happened, New Zealand were able to set aside their disappointment overnight and focus on the bronze medal as a major prize, rather than a consolation without feeling any pressure as hosts or title contenders.
“We’re all gutted,” Brunt said. “We’re a lot better than that. Obviously we had a big knock with Heather – a huge head on her shoulders, loads of experience and plenty of runs in the bank. We took a big hit, but we tried our best for her and thought we’d done enough but that game against India was brutal, and in the end, they deserved it.
“We’ve got lots of youth in our team and they won’t have been in games like that, against India or against New Zealand, and they won’t have experienced bowling or battling against the best players in the world. So there’s plenty of learnings to take from yesterday and today for them to grow and move forward.”
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo