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Danni Wyatt
T20 World Cup

Key players: England

WWT20, feature

On her day, England opener Danni Wyatt is as destructive as any player in the world, while left-arm spinner Sophie Ecclestone is one of the most exciting young talents in the world.

Star of the show

Name: Danni Wyatt
Role: Right-hand bat
T20Is: 83
Batting stats: Runs – 994; Average – 18.40; Strike Rate – 127.10; 50s – 3; 100s – 2; Best – 124
Bowling stats: Wickets – 46; Economy Rate – 5.69; Average – 15.04; Best – 4/11

A year ago, it would have been unthinkable that Danni Wyatt would have been thought of as England’s most important player heading into the World T20. In fact, it seemed unlikely she’d even make the XI. After 123 ODIs and T20Is spread across eight years, she had, incredibly, not managed a single half-century.

Finally, in the first of three T20Is against Australia, with the Women’s Ashes on the line, she broke the duck, scoring 50 off 36 balls from No.6 to rescue England from 16/4. Though England lost that game, and with it the Ashes, she earned a promotion to open the batting.

Danni Wyatt has scored two T20I centuries
Danni Wyatt has scored two T20I centuries

And within two knocks, she ensured that it would be the last time for a long time she was asked to change role. In the final game of the series, she smashed 100 off 57 balls, helping England complete the highest ever chase in Women’s T20Is, gunning down 179 even after her side had been dead and buried at 30/3.

Two games later, she repeated the trick for good measure. This time the target was 199, and the opposition India. Wyatt crashed 124 of them by herself off 64 balls. Within the space of three games she had basically single-handedly chased two world record totals, each time finishing them off before the final over. She had finally become the player those who saw her in training and in county cricket had always insisted she could be.

She’d been recalled, dropped, push up the order, pushed down it, told to give it a whack, told to be a proper batter, and all the while not convincing in any particular position. Finally, she’d found her perfect role – go in at the top, don’t think too much. Just bat. On her day, she’s unstoppable. If she fires, other teams might not get close.

One to watch

Name: Sophie Ecclestone
Role: Left-arm spinner
T20Is: 14
Batting stats: Runs – 22; Average – 7.33; Strike Rate – 100.00; Best – 9*
Bowling stats: Wickets – 19; Economy Rate – 7.11; Average – 19.78; Best – 4/18

Though she’s only 19 years old, in some ways Sophie Ecclestone is already a senior player, at least compared to the other two slow left-armers in the squad, Linsey Smith and Kirstie Gordon, neither of whom have played an international.

Sophie Ecclestone was Player of the Series against New Zealand and South Africa
Sophie Ecclestone was Player of the Series against New Zealand and South Africa

Accurate and incisive, she has certainly shown throughout her nascent international career that she won’t be cowed, and that she thrives in the key moments on the big stage. Her ODI debut is a case in point. The Windies had progressed to 53/0 chasing 150 when she struck, dismissing both openers in successive overs. England would go onto win by five runs.

She has impressed virtually every time she’s been given an opportunity - she was Player of the Series during a tri-series against South Africa and New Zealand this summer - and has also starred in the Women’s Cricket Super League, in which she’s taken 27 wickets, the joint-most of any bowler.

The only thing that stopped her from making her mark at last year’s Women’s Cricket World Cup? Exams. With her schoolwork done for good, don’t bet against her making her first global tournament one to remember.

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