Heather Knight, England’s captain, is on the cusp of a huge milestone. Come the second ODI against Pakistan on Thursday (December 12), the right-hand batter is set to become just the tenth player from England to play 100 ODIs. Of the lot, she will be the fastest – in terms of years played – to reach the mark.
Having made her debut under Charlotte Edwards back in 2010, Knight was earmarked for greater things from the very start. In 99 ODIs so far, she has scored 2714 runs at an average of 37.17, including 18 half centuries and one century. Often bailing the team out of difficult situations, and always adjusting to the demands of the situation, Knight has done it all. After the retirement of Charlotte Edward in 2016, Knight took over as captain at the start of the home summer in June. She has since led the team in 44 ODIs winning 31 of those games – most famously, squeezing to a win in the final of the 2017 World Cup against India at Lord’s.
Women’s CricZone looks back at some of Knight’s most impactful performances with the bat over the years.
Match no.1: 49 off 101 v India in Mumbai (2010)
In a quaint little corner of busy Mumbai, Heather Knight made her international debut against India at the Bandra Kurla Complex. With the series already lost and England desperate to end the ODI-leg on high, Knight was thrust into the deep end in foreign conditions.
Having started the day in the field, she watched as India’s lower middle-order rallied to help them post 206. In reply, Knight laid the foundation for a thrilling England win with a patient 49. While the top order stumbled against the Indian attack, Knight held one end up, allowing England to inch closer to their target. Although she fell marginally short of becoming the fifth England player to score more than 50 on her ODI debut, Knight’s knock gave her team a platform from which they could launch. England eventually squeaked home by two wickets with one ball to spare – fellow debutante Danielle Wyatt hitting the winning runs.
Match no. 19: 55* off 73 v South Africa in Potchefstroom (2011)
In only her second innings batting at no.6, Knight played the type of knock that would soon become her trademark. England had already clinched the series against South Africa, 2-0, but wanted to underline their dominance over the hosts with a whitewash. Having inserted South Africa in, England’s bowlers managed restrict their opponents to just 181, with Knight taking two wickets. However, chasing a sub-par total, England had their backs to the wall, having been reduced to 42 for 4 in the 14th over. Knight joined hands with Lydia Greenway to and stitched together an 87-run partnership to take England to safety. The right-hander finished unbeaten on 55 – her second half-century of her career – and successfully took England home with seven overs to spare. It was an innings that underlined Knight’s versatility – something that would go on to define her batting.
“I enjoyed going into the new role of batting at No. 6 and it was good to get some runs,” Knight said after the game. “It was brilliant to bat out there with Jenny and Lydia and I was pleased to be able to finish the game off. It was a good feeling to get my first not out for England.”
Match no. 39: 69 off 65 v Australia in Hove (2013)
Pushed back up the order for the 2013 Ashes, with the series on the line, Knight displayed a belligerence that was rarely seen in the early part of her career. Rain (and the resulting wet outfield) at Hove meant the final ODI had been reduced to a 36-overs-a-side fixture that saw Australia post a total of 203 for 4. Having lost Charlotte Edwards, her opening partner, quite early in the chase, Knight teamed up with Sarah Taylor to put on a rapid 126-run partnership in just 18.4 overs. She brought up her third half-century in just 53 balls, going on to score 69 off just 65 deliveries including five boundaries. Her knock – in which she never allowed the Australian bowlers to settle – laid the foundation to England’s five-wicket victory.
Match no. 56: 50* off 70 v Pakistan in Leicester (2016)
That Knight responds well to responsibility became evident in her very first game as full-time England captain. Following the retirement of Charlotte Edwards after the 2016 World T20 in India, Knight took the reigns of a team that needed to be ‘rebuilt’ in June. Having dismissed Pakistan for a meagre 165 in the first ODI of the series, England were rocked early by Asmavia Iqbal and Sana Mir. Walking in at no. 4 – her first ever innings in that position – Knight steadied the ship, and in the company of Tammy Beaumont – who was yet to cement her place in the side – took England to the brink of victory. Following the opener’s dismissal, skipper Knight took complete control of the chase and guided her team home with 18.1 overs to spare. She remained unbeaten on an even 50 – the first of nine half-centuries (so far) as skipper- getting her captaincy campaign off to an auspicious start.
“It was a big day, a proud day for me and there were some nerves this morning, definitely,” Knight had said. “So it was nice to start with a win. “
Match no. 68: 106 off 109 v Pakistan in Leicester (2017)
Pakistan again. Leicester again. Knight comes in to bat after a bit of a wobble (44 for 2) again. It was almost as if the stars had aligned for Knight to bring up her maiden ODI century in this World Cup match. Leading England in what was her first major tournament as skipper, England had suffered a somewhat surprising loss to India in their opening game of the tournament. Determined to bounce back, fittingly, Knight took the bull by the horns and alongside Natalie Sciver – who also scored a century – headlined England’s mammoth total of 377 for 7 – their highest total in World Cups. The right-hander clobbered 106 off 109 deliveries, including 12 fours and two sixes.
She walked in to bat with positive intent, stroking an exquisite cover drive off Kainat Imtiaz to collect her first boundary. She milked Pakistan’s spinners wonderfully, picking the gaps on the leg-side with ease, rocking on to the back foot to punch or pull and using the sweep shot perfectly as well.