Heather Knight, recovering from foot injury, to lead England Women
Sarah Taylor, the wicketkeeper-batter who had taken an indefinite break from cricket in May last year to undergo Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) because of anxiety issues, has been named in the England Women squad for the ICC Women’s World Cup 2017 at home, which gets underway on June 24.
Taylor, 28, was a part of England’s training camp in the United Arab Emirates in April, and recently made 61 and effected one dismissal for Sussex Women against Kent Women in a Division 1 contest of the Women’s One-Day Cup.
Heather Knight, who is on track to recover from metatarsal stress fracture on her left foot, has been named captain of the squad that has a mixture of youth and experience.
“We are hugely excited about the potential of this squad. There will be no better and greater stage than a home World Cup for our players to showcase what they are about and we are really excited about what this group of girls could potentially achieve,” Mark Robinson, England’s coach, said. “The return to the squad of Sarah Taylor shows how far she’s come and we are hopeful both she and Heather Knight will be able to play a full part in the tournament.”
Knight, who took over as captain from the retiring Charlotte Edwards after the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 2016 in India, said she was looking forward to leading the team at home. England has not won the World Cup since lifting the title for the third time in 2009.
“It’s been frustrating to have my preparations disrupted by injury but I have been confronted with more serious injuries in the past so I know the important of disciplined rehab. I will be committing every moment to that rehab between now and the World Cup getting underway,” Knight said. “It’s such a dream to captain England in a World Cup on home soil; it’s not something that many cricketers can say they have done and it’s a real honour. There’s so much potential in this group of players and the opportunity ahead of us is really exciting.”
England has included Katherine Brunt, twice a World Cup winner who will be making her fourth appearance in the tournament. Jenny Gunn, Laura Marsh, Taylor, Jenny Gunn and Anya Shrubsole, the vice-captain, too have significant experience. At the other end of the spectrum, Alex Hartley, Beth Langston, Natalie Sciver, Lauren Winfield and Fran Wilson will be playing their first World Cup.
“I am very proud of all the girls in this squad, as cricketers and people. We are a young group but we have made massive strides over the past 12 months and everyone has worked so hard,” added Knight. “We know it’s going to be a tough tournament – and we won’t go in as favourites – but backed by home support we will do our best to challenge for the trophy.”
England opens its campaign against India in Derby on the first day of the tournament, for which tickets have been sold out. Clare Connor, director of England Women’s Cricket, said that was a positive sign and a measure of how much the sport has grown.
“The fact that Derby is already sold out is telling of the appetite that exists for women’s cricket in this country and we want to use this tournament to build on that,” Connor said. “We have a summer where the best players in the world will be on our doorstep during the World Cup and then the Super League – a brilliant time to inspire new fans and players to the women’s game.”
Squad: Heather Knight (capt), Georgia Elwiss, Jenny Gunn, Alex Hartley, Sarah Taylor (wk), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Danielle Hazell, Beth Langston, Laura Marsh, Anya Shrubsole (vice-capt), Natalie Sciver, Fran Wilson, Danielle Wyatt, Lauren Winfield.