England's Women Can Redeem Winter Of Discontent With World Cup Win

Heather Knight and co are heading to New Zealand for the World Cup
07:05, 21 Feb 2022

England head to this year’s ICC Women’s World Cup in New Zealand hungry to win their fifth title.

But the defending champions know they will have to pull out all the stops if they are going to stand any chance of winning silverware again at this year’s showcase tournament, which runs 4 March – 3 April.

Heather Knight’s side have plenty of ability and promise, but their alarming 12-4 Ashes loss to Australia this month has done little to inspire confidence.

And while a one-off month-long tournament offers the opportunity to grow and build towards a shot at the title again, Knight’s side will have to improve – and quickly – if they are going to once again challenge for the crown.

England named a strong 15-member squad and two travelling reserves for the prestigious competition.

And with eight players from their 2017 World Cup-winning squad all competing, with some talented debutants included, Knight’s ambitious side do have the firepower to be successful.

But just to make life fun they will face their arch-enemies Australia in their opening match on 5 March.

England will certainly know what to expect when the two sides clash in Hamilton, but Knight’s side were convincingly beaten in all three of their recent 50-over ODI Ashes clashes.

Anything, of course, can happen in a one-day match, but Australia are rightly favourites to win – and understandably tipped for the title this time around.

However, England must try and draw on the inspiration of their memorable 2017 World Cup triumph at Lords.

Knight was part of that winning side and, along with the likes of seasoned campaigners Katherine Brunt, Tammy Beaumont and Nat Sciver – who also starred in that competition five years ago – England’s backbone know what is required to succeed.

England impressed from start-to-finish in the 11th edition of the event, finishing top of their qualifying group, before beating South Africa in a nail-biting semi-final with just two balls remaining and going on to beat India in the final.

India, who shocked Australia by beating them in the semis, were cruising at 191-3 in that final with seven overs left to reach England’s 229 run target.

But a stunning bowling display from Anya Shrubsole – now retired from international duty – inspired England to a stunning win.

Shrubsole returned amazing figures of 6/46 – the best figures in a women’s World Cup final – as England dazzled in front of a near full-house at Lord’s.

How England could do with someone of Shrubsole’s proven calibre this time around, although, all-rounder Brunt continues to shine again with the ball.

And England do have other good bowling options – and strength with the bat.

Opening bat Beaumont was her country’s star with the willow at the 2017 World Cup, amassing 410 runs in 9 matches, key to England’s success.
This time around England have included all-rounder Emma Lamb, who made her debut in international cricket last summer, while Charlie Dean, the 20-year-old off-spinner, has also been selected.

“Emma Lamb, a consistent performer across domestic cricket, comes into the squad after making her international debut last summer and offers multiple options with the bat and as an all-rounder with her off-spin bowling,” Jonathan Finch, the director of England women’s cricket, said.

“The England Women’s A series that ran alongside the Ashes enabled a wider group of players to compete for a place in the squad which has made for some tough calls on selection.”

From the ODI team that played in Australia in the Ashes, Maia Bouchier misses out. Mady Villiers, who was also part of the squad for that series, will be a travelling reserve alongside Lauren Bell.

However, Sarah Glenn controversially opted not to make herself available for the tournament because of strict coronavirus quarantine and living protocols prior – and during the tournament.

“I love the responsibility of being captain,” said Knight. “I prefer to lead through my actions, but I’ll choose my moments to speak.

“We’ve had a tough Ashes series, but we’ve learnt a lot from that. We’re clear on where we want to go moving forward, so hopefully we can show that.”

England squad: Heather Knight (captain), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Freya Davies, Charlie Dean, Sophia Dunkley, Kate Cross, Sophie Ecclestone, Tash Farrant, Amy Jones (wicketkeeper), Emma Lamb, Nat Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Lauren Winfield-Hill, Danni Wyatt.

Travelling Reserves: Lauren Bell, Mady Villiers.

England's World Cup schedule (March):

5 v Australia, Hamilton (01:00 GMT)

9 v West Indies, Dunedin (21:00 8 March)

14 v South Africa, Mount Maunganui (01:00)

16 v India, Mount Maunganui (01:00)

20 v New Zealand, Auckland (21:00 19 March)

24 v Pakistan, Christchurch (01:00)

27 v Bangladesh, Wellington (21:00 26 March)

England’s World Cup record:

1973: Winners

1978: Runners-up

1982: Runners-up

1988: Runners-up

1993: Winners

1997: Semi-finals

2000: Fifth place

2005: Semi-finals

2009: Winners

2013: Third place

2017: Winners

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