Heather Knight on Saturday (June 26) insisted that Wyatt was very much part of England’s World Cup plans and that they hadn’t looked beyond her for good.
“Though we’ve decided to go in a slightly different direction, it doesn’t mean Danni’s completely out of our plans,” said the England captain ahead of the first ODI.
“She’s a quality cricketer and she’ll admit herself that she hasn’t quite cracked ODI cricket yet. She’s had a bit of a lean year and she’ll be the first to admit that. We want her to find a little bit of form playing cricket back in the domestic competition.”
Wyatt has played 77 ODIs for England and averages just a shade over 19 in the format, having scored over 1000 runs. Her only ton to date in the format came against Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur in 2019. Lauren Winfield-Hill, who will open the batting on Sunday along with Tammy Beaumont, hit a couple of sixes in the Test match last week and already has a ton and three half centuries in the fifty-over format.
“We want to give Lauren the opportunity at the top of the order,” continued Knight.
“We felt that it was the right time now to make the change and give Lauren the opportunity and see what she can do at the top. It’s eleven ODIs (to go) before the World Cup and Ashes. It was a tough decision to leave Danni out. She’s a talented cricketer and a very popular member of our group.”
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While Wyatt plies her trade for Southern Vipers in the Charlotte Edwards Cup, her counterpart in the Indian team, who could give England a hard time if she gets going is the experienced Smriti Mandhana, about whom Knight sounded caution. The Indian left-hander scored 78 in the first innings of the Test match and was involved in a record 167-run opening partnership for India with young Shafali Verma.
“I hope she’s not due for a big one to be honest,” said Knight with a laugh about her former Western Storm team-mate.
“I thought she played well ">in the Test match. She went under the radar because of the way Shafali played. I know Smriti quite well and she would have struggled a little bit trying to rein in her attacking instincts a bit and play more of a Test innings which she did.”
“I have played a lot with her and against her and I know she can be quite destructive but our job is to try and get her out.”
While India went into the Test with two off-spinners, Knight said that she would be surprised to not see Poonam Yadav take field in the first ODI in Bristol. While the pitch “has an even covering of grass” according to Knight, who also revealed that it is a fresh surface unlike the one used for the Test match, the track could have something in it for spinners.
“I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t play. She’s got a very good record,” admitted Knight.
“She poses slightly a different threat. She is quite different to any other bowler we face due to her height and her pace through the air isn’t very quick. But she’s a skilful bowler who can spin it both ways. She can be particularly hard on a slower wicket.”
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Yadav has picked 13 wickets in ODIs against England, the third-most for her against an opposition after South Africa (18) and Sri Lanka (15). But against South Africa in March, she returned without a wicket in the four ODIs she played and was eventually benched for the debutante Prathyusha Challaru in the final game.
Knight was confident of England doing well against the leggie and said that they would look to emulate South Africa.
“We’ll look to play her like we have done previously. I think we have played her very well, like in the T20 World Cup semi-final in West Indies (2018), where Amy Jones and (Natalie) Sciver played her outstandingly. ODI cricket is a bit different and you don’t have to go after certain bowlers as much.”
“We’ll look to be positive against her and try and play in a similar fashion that has been successful in the past, which is generally back foot and hitting it hard to the outfielder. The South Africans played her very well in that recent series and we’ll be looking at how they did that and try to replicate that and be successful against her.”
She also lauded England bowlers’ wicket-taking mentality that bore fruits against New Zealand and was happy with the depth of the bowling attack at her disposal.