NZ vs Eng Women 2021


Heather Knight hopes Wyatt can build on her breakthrough hundred on New Zealand tour

But for Covid, England Women would be two weeks into the defence of their 50-over World Cup, with two out of seven group games to go and the semi-finals looming. Instead, the tournament has been postponed by 12 months, and they have not played an ODI in 436 days.

That streak will finally come to an end this week, with their three-match series against New Zealand starting on Tuesday in Christchurch. After the vast majority of their home summer schedule was cancelled, England are starting from scratch: remarkably, this will be their first ODI under Lisa Keightley’s stewardship, nearly 16 months after her appointment as head coach.

The wait has been particularly frustrating for those players who had hoped to nail down their places after their most recent series, against Pakistan in Malaysia in December 2019 with Ali Maiden taking temporary charge of the squad.

Nobody embodies the frustration better than Danni Wyatt. Wyatt turns 30 in April, and the fact that her batting average is a shade below 20 in both ODI and T20I cricket prompts a double-take. Anyone who has seen either of Wyatt’s two T20I hundreds will know how talented a batter she is, but she has struggled to realise her potential in international cricket, perhaps hampered by regular shifts up and down the order.

She is a player who relies on form and rhythm, which jars with the sporadic nature of the women’s international calendar. In that series in Malaysia she appeared to have finally cracked ODI cricket, making her first hundred in the format with an innings of 110 off 95 balls to set up a convincing win; since then, she has faced six balls in an ODI shirt.

“It’s fair to say – and Danni will say this herself – that she hasn’t quite nailed ODI cricket yet,” Heather Knight, England’s captain, said on the eve of the New Zealand series. “She’s batted in a few different positions and it was obviously a real shame for her that she had that great hundred in Malaysia and then wasn’t able to back that up with the big break.

“I really think it’s going to be a huge series for her – and a huge year – in terms of really nailing down her ODI cricket and what she could do for us at the top of the order. She naturally scores very quickly, and there are going to be times, probably, when she gets out early because we want her to be aggressive, play her natural game, and take the game on. But I’m really excited about what Danni could do.”

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