The ECB have officially announced that Heather Knight will succeed Charlotte Edwards as England captain, becoming the 21st woman to skipper the team, with Anya Shrubsole as vice captain.
Knight was always the obvious choice: she was appointed vice captain in 2014, in a move which was described at the time as “succession planning”; of the available candidates (i.e. excluding Sarah Taylor) she is by some way the leading international run scorer in the past 12 months (357 runs at 26); and her record as a domestic captain at Berkshire and Hobart/ Tasmania speaks for itself – both teams having punched considerably above their weight with her at the helm.
With Sarah Taylor effectively having ruled herself out by taking a break from the game, were there any other realistic candidates?
Anya Shrubsole was a possibility, but the conventional wisdom, from which cricket rarely deviates, is that bowlers are unsuited to international captaincy; and whilst Nat Sciver’s name was also mentioned, she has not had any previous serious captaincy experience. The former, of course, has the consolation of the vice captaincy.
The next 12 months are unlikely to be easy for England. Their first task is to finish in the top 4 of the Women’s International Championship, and thus qualify directly for the 2017 World Cup – it ought to be straightforward, but they are currently 6th, albeit with games in hand. Then there is the World Cup itself – at home in England, with a media spotlight upon the team, the like of which they will never have experienced before.
As the (apparently apocryphal) Chinese curse says: May you live in interesting times!
These will certainly be interesting times for Heather Knight.