Heather Knight wants England to inspire next generation in Women’s Ashes

Heather Knight wants England to inspire next generation in Women’s Ashes

Heather Knight wants England to exploit the increased exposure from a seminal Women’s Ashes series, insisting she and her team take a responsibility to inspire the next generation “personally”.

England will try to wrestle the urn from all-conquering Australia’s grasp in the multi-format series, beginning with a lone Test at Trent Bridge where around 15,000 tickets have been sold across five days.

On the eve of the curtain-raiser, Knight senses an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the England football team, who sent the nation into raptures with their triumphant Euro 2022 campaign.

Doing so will be no mean feat as Australia have not lost to England since 2014, hold both limited-overs World Cups and won gold at last year’s Commonwealth Games, but Knight is in an optimistic mood.

She said: “One of our mantras is to entertain and inspire. In the women’s game, we take it quite personally that we want to promote the game in the right way, get people behind us and inspire them.

“It’s super special and it’s set up to be a really amazing Ashes series that’s probably going to be the most visible series outside of World Cups that we’ve ever had. We’re keen to try and maximise that.

“Women’s sport is just in such an amazing place in the country in the moment and we want to be a part of that. What the Lionesses did last summer, we loved watching it and want to be a part of that.

“We know we’re up against a very good Australian team but we’ve got the opportunity to do something special and part of that is bringing the country with us on that journey.”

With four points on offer for this series opener – two are available for wins in each of the three T20s and three ODIs – Knight is well aware of the need for England to fly out of the traps when they begin their campaign on a fresh pitch in Nottingham.

They named an XI 24 hours early, with Lauren Filer set to make her England debut after pipping the highly-rated Issy Wong to the last seamer spot.

While Wong has continued her upward trajectory, and was a standout at the Women’s Premier League in India in March, Knight feels Filer presents the England fast-bowling attack with a point of difference.

Heather Knight wants England to inspire over the next month (Bradley Collyer/PA)
Heather Knight wants England to inspire over the next month (Bradley Collyer/PA)

Knight told the PA news agency: “Anytime you give someone a debut, it’s a bit of an unknown but I’m really confident she’s going out to do a really good job for us.

“She’s quick, she’s got skills, can swing it both ways and she’s also got that bounce which you don’t often get too much of in the women’s game.

“We’ve found it’s particularly effective against the batters in the women’s game because you’re just not used to that kind of bounce. There haven’t been many people queuing up to face her in the nets.

“She’s raw but she bowls wicket-taking deliveries which is why we’ve picked her because we want to take 20 wickets.”

Danni Wyatt is set for her Test debut this week (Nigel French/PA)
Danni Wyatt is set for her Test debut this week (Nigel French/PA)

England have adopted a more attacking approach under head coach Jon Lewis and crystallising that intent is the selection of Danni Wyatt, who is set for her Test bow after 245 white-ball appearances.

Wyatt has registered in excess of 4,000 runs in the shorter formats in an international career that started in March 2010 – including a 56-ball T20 hundred against Australia in Canberra in November 2017.

Knight said: “We feel like she’s one of the best players of spin in the world and a player that can really attack spin.

“She’s there to add a bit of experience but also to play how she normally does which is counter punch a little bit and try to take on their bowlers.

“She’s the sort of person who can really change the game in a short space of time so we’ve put her in there to do exactly what she does in white-ball cricket and play her natural game.”

Ben Stokes’ England made a losing start in their series against Australia in an absorbing Test where the momentum changed hands multiple times, which has served to sharpen Knight’s excitement.

Knight added: “It was a hell of a lot of fun to watch at Edgbaston, just watching the men go about it this week has really whetted the appetite to get going now.”