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Series Editorial

Five questions England women need to answer before the T20 World Cup

Heather Knight of England leads the team off the field at the end of the first inning during the 2022 ICC Women's Cricket World Cup Final match
by Katya Witney 3 minute read

England women will take on the West Indies for two white-ball series before the New Year, in their final assignment before the T20 World Cup in February.

The series, the first between the two sides in the Caribbean since 2017, marks a fresh start on several counts for both sides. West Indies have a new captain, Hayley Matthews, who led Barbados in the Commonwealth Games earlier this year, with Stafanie Taylor missing through injury. This is also their first series since Deandra Dottin’s retirement from international cricket earlier this year.

England, meanwhile, have a new head coach – Jon Lewis – who was announced as Lisa Keightley’s successor just over a week before the squad flew out for the tour. Heather Knight, Nat Sciver and Katherine Brunt are also back after missing the end of the English summer, Knight due to a hip injury and Sciver through mental fatigue.


The three ODIs and five T20Is are the last chance for both sides to finalise their plans for the T20 World Cup in South Africa, which is less than three months away. Ahead of the tour, Knight said: “I think we’ve got a really good well balanced side loads of different options. There’s [sic] still a few spots that are obviously open and a chance for players to put their hands up to be in that best XI.”

Since 2013, England have not lost a series outside knockout tournaments to an opposition aside from Australia. However, if they are to challenge the all-conquering Australians, there are questions they will hope to find the answers to on this tour.

It was a big call from Knight to drop Beaumont from the T20I side ahead of the Commonwealth Games. Beaumont has an exceptional ODI record, England were searching to increase the strike rate in the powerplay, to match the firepower of Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney. Promoting Sophia Dunkley to the role she fulfils for the Southern Brave in the Hundred was a bold step.

While Dunkley did not do a bad job, striking at 137 over the summer, there were lapses in her fluency and concentration which meant she has yet to convince everyone that she is the best option at the top in T20s.

Beaumont has only been selected for the ODI leg of this tour, but quick runs could see her force her way back into the T20I reckoning. England have several possibilities at the top with Danni Wyatt, Dukley and Lauren Winfield-Hill (also recalled to the squad) all vying for a place. Depending on the balance of their XI they could drop one of them down to three and push Alice Capsey down a position to four. Either way, the makeup of the top three is something that needs to be checked off the list.

New challenges for a young squad

The much-vaunted youth of England’s squad is another consideration, particularly amongst the bowlers. This is the first senior overseas tour for the likes of Issy Wong, Lauren Bell, Alice Capsey and Freya Kemp, and an opportunity for them to develop their skills in unfamiliar conditions. Bell and Wong were part of England A’s tour to Australia last year, but the slow pitches which were seen in the West Indies on New Zealand’s visit in October will present a different challenge.

None of the youngsters mentioned above has played international cricket in South Africa before. This tour will give them a chance to prove their worth in foreign (albeit dissimilar) conditions under Lewis’s watchful and experienced eyes.

Sciver’s role

England’s best and most important player was a big miss against India. Mentally fatigued after taking over the captaincy in a difficult Commonwealth Games tournament, Sciver returns to the side having not played competitive cricket since early August. While Amy Jones has been named as vice-captain for the matches against the West Indies, the door has been left open for Sciver to return to the role when she feels able.

Jones’ form this year has been problematic for England. She has averaged 18.33 in ODIs, and seemed to have struggled with the leadership of the side against India. Deputising for Knight if she picks up another injury or aggravates her hip again would be tough.

Spin combinations

Sophie Ecclestone has been having her best year in international cricket yet, taking 47 wickets across formats so far as well as 20 wickets in the WBBL. Aside from her, England will need to finalise what their spin combinations will be on this tour. With their wealth of all-rounders meaning they have strong backup orthodox options, Capsey and Knight, the obvious choice would be Sarah Glenn as a leg-spinner. Glenn had a good T20I series against India, picking up six wickets and her best-ever figures.

While the spin options look the most settled part of the side, Lewis may wish to have a look at Charlie Dean in a T20I capacity to assess all his options for what could be a tough tournament.

Fast bowlers

The most competitive part of England’s squad; Bell, Davies, Kemp, Wong and Brunt will be battling it out for what is probably three places in the XI. Assuming Brunt takes one place in what likely will be her last T20 World Cup, that leaves the young guns to fill the rest.

Wong’s pace separates her from the rest, while Kemp’s left-arm angle may see her given the nod. With eight wickets in nine matches, Kemp has been exceptional since her debut. She also strengthens the batting lineup: she scored her maiden fifty in her second innings against India in the summer.

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