Keen to identify fresh talent as part of a new era for England, interim head coach Ali Maiden was intent on developing a leg-spinning option to strengthen England’s attack with a global tournament around the corner.
Such was Glenn’s impact in those six internationals in Kuala Lumpur that she became an automatic pick in the T20 World Cup squad early this year: a bowler who took key wickets at crucial times and conceded few runs in the process.
Wednesday (September 24) night’s second T20I against the West Indies at the County Ground in Derby, made clear her allround credentials too. In a vital innings of 26 off 19 balls, she not only top-scored for her country, but helped wrest back the initiative after another middle-order collapse. She then chimed in with the wickets of West Indies’ two most dominant batters Deandra Dottin and Stafanie Taylor in successive overs.
No less a judge than former captain Charlotte Edwards said afterwards that Glenn was the "best find for England" for several years and it was hard to imagine a side without her.
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Derbyshire born and bred, Glenn is proud that her home town was the scene of her first international games in England this week: “I’m really happy. It’s quite special because this is the ground I grew up playing at. So, it felt quite a special moment. I’m just glad I’ve done people at home proud as well.”
After time with the England Academy, she was selected for the tour of Malaysia last December on the back of a strong showing in last year’s Women’s Cricket Super League which brought her 11 wickets for Loughborough Lightning.
Skipper Heather Knight singled her out for special mention after the tour, praising her consistency and ‘outstanding’ performance which brought her 12 wickets across the ODI and T20 series, including figures of 8-1-18-4 in the final ODI.
She took five wickets in two matches against Australia in the T20I tri-series in Australia in January, a precursor to the World Cup that followed.
If she was daunted by the big occasion it didn’t show. She claimed six wickets, including a best return of 3 for 15 against Pakistan, and crucially had the third-best economy rate of any bowler in the tournament.
She believes it was playing on that big stage that has given her the confidence that she can perform at this level, even with the enforced break afterwards.
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“I started to get a bit more confidence after the T20 World Cup, after playing against some top teams,” she says.
“Then it's been quite hard to keep that, obviously with the time off. But I think the time off did me really well, to just really clear my head and have a complete break from cricket and come back into it, really excited to be back playing.”
“It just meant I was playing with a clear head
After England had started positively, posting 30 in their first three overs, they then lost 3 for 16 in the next four and by the 15th over were in trouble at 96 for 6.
Sharing a partnership of 46 in five overs with the experienced Katherine Brunt, Glenn struck four boundaries, including successive fours off Shakera Selman. She was eventually run out off the final ball of England’s innings.
She was especially pleased to play such a key knock in only her second innings for England and is keen to be seen as an allround package.
“It felt really special to score runs with an English shirt on. I’ve been wanting to work my way up the order as well, so it felt quite a special moment to get some runs today."
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“It really means a lot because I really, really don't want to try and be seen as just a bowler or a batter. I want to be seen as a genuine allrounder. I've been working hard on my batting over the last few years to be a genuine allrounder.”
“I think the time off with COVID actually did me well to just, again, clear my head and come back with a fresh mindset to just try and be really positive. I want to keep playing my attacking way whatever the situation is. So, I just want to try and keep reminding myself of that.”
With the ball, Glenn had conceded 15 runs off her first two overs with Dottin and Taylor cruising during a 61-run partnership for the second wicket. By the time she was recalled to the attack from the opposite end to bowl the 12th over, West Indies needed a manageable 85 from 54 balls.
For the sixth ball of her third over, she tossed up a leg break which deceived Dottin and trapped her lbw as the batter attempted a sweep shot. In Glenn’s next over, Taylor came down the wicket to her and was neatly stumped by Amy Jones.
“It’s been hard to bowl at these batters,” Glenn said at close of play. “You can end up going for a few runs. I think I've just got to keep being brave and trust in my game for it to pay off and hopefully still keep getting them out and keep contributing to the team.”
Glenn is one of a trio of young spinners in England’s T20I side. She clearly revels bowling in a pack with Sophie Ecclestone and Mady Villiers who also each picked up two wickets last night.
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“It's really special. I absolutely love it,” she says. “I think we click really well together, on and off the field. I feel I can just go and talk to them about anything, so we help each other on the pitch, talk about what the pitch is doing, how they're playing, what's the best ball.”
“Then, time off the pitch is great, we all have quite a good laugh. So, we’re just really happy for each other seeing each other do well. It's really exciting.”
Overall, Glenn says England were happy with their performance last night.
“We're looking to try to throw the first punch as a team. I know we lost wickets through the middle, but I think us coming in and still being really positive was how I want to play.”
“And then I thought we did really well bowling wise to control it near the back end. I was pretty happy with how we did.”
“We took time to build up back up as a team. Obviously, with COVID, we’ve had a lot of time and had a few cobwebs at the start, but I thought we did really well to build it back up. I thought we were really sharp from game one
Charlotte Edwards is excited by the impact Glenn has made and is sure she is here to stay. Speaking to Sky Sports Cricket after the game she said: “Sarah Glenn has been the best find for England in a number of years.”
“The England team have been looking for a leg-spinner that can dominate through the middle, that can work in unison with Sophie Ecclestone. But equally now, they’ve found a lower-order batter as well and I think that
“She seems a great girl, the girls really like her, get behind her and she’s settled in seamlessly to this England team. You can’t think of a team now without Sarah Glenn in it.”