INDIA WOMEN TOUR OF ENGLAND, 2021
“It is no secret that this Test is a huge part of our preparation going into the Ashes Test match away from home,” Knight said. © Getty
India and England will attempt to reinvigorate the Test format at Bristol next week and while the result will be paramount for both teams, there is also a sense of an overarching responsibility of producing a good game knowing that a spectacle could help push for more Tests in the women’s cricket calendar. Given that the series will be played in a multi-format, points-based series [4 for a win in Test, 2 each in ODIs and T20Is] there is a concern that teams could take a more conservative approach to the game, something that marred the Ashes Test of 2019 in Taunton.
England captain Heather Knight reasoned that the situation was different this time around with the one-off Test kickstarting the multi-format series as opposed to it being sandwiched between the two white-ball formats in the Ashes. “That was a different situation, that was a middle period of the Ashes,” Knight said of the draw from 2019. “This is the first game of the multi-format point system that we are going to be playing for this India series. We’re going to be doing as much as we can to win.
“Sometimes it’s tricky when you play Test cricket so rarely to know exactly what to do in that situation, we haven’t been put regularly in those situations, we don’t play any multi-inning cricket domestically, we are finding our feet a little bit as we go. We’ll always look to, if we can, if the opportunity is there to go out and win.”
Despite being slightly more versed with the four-day game compared to India, who last played a Test in 2014, Knight acknowledged that the game was a step into the unknown with women’s international cricket only just finding its feet post the pandemic-enforced hiatus. “There’s that added nerves [in the build up to a Test match morning] and also the expectation, I guess, of the unknown because we don’t play [the format] very often.
“Captaining as well can be tricky when we are so used to play white ball cricket, so getting used to the different ebbs and flows of the game, the different decisions you have to make, I think it’ll be more exciting as well just to have fans in and people watching which we haven’t had for a long time, it feels like a proper start to a home summer. I think it’s going to be a sense of occasion down in Bristol. There’ll be nerves but more excitement to get going, I’m sure the Indians will have a few nerves as well having not played a Test match in seven years. But same for both teams.
“We always want to put on a show, because we haven’t had fans in there for so long. India are a very strong side and naturally there’ll be a contest there and they’re going to be hard to beat so I guess that’ll hopefully be fun to watch,” she added.
The one-off Test next Wednesday kickstarts an important summer for Knight’s team who have an Ashes series followed by a World Cup title defence later in the winter. The captain acknowledged that the build up to the marquee series starts now and preparation will include using the red Kookaburra ball [similar to be used for the Ashes] in the Test as well as retaining keeper-bat Amy Jones at her preferred middle-over slot.
“Starting against India, a very strong side, a team that’s been really successful over the last few years and they’re going to be a really big test for us,” she said. “We’ve got a huge year next year and the start of that development and getting the girls in the right place, getting the team in the right place and getting the right people in the right positions is going to be really clear in our preparations this summer obviously going into next year.
“It is no secret that this Test is a huge part of our preparation going into the Ashes Test match away from home. Whether it’s worth using Duke balls for Women’s Test matches, it’s worth looking into but obviously we want to use the Kookaburra this summer because it’s the best preparation for the Ashes.”