NEWS: Knight To Captain England

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.

IN NUMBERS: England Running On Empty Without Edwards, Taylor & Greenway?

Player Runs (% Total)
Charlotte Edwards 517 (19%)
Sarah Taylor 427 (16%)
Heather Knight 357 (13%)
Nat Sciver 256 (9%)
Lydia Greenway 230 (9%)
Katherine Brunt 207 (8%)
Georgia Elwiss 179 (7%)
Tammy Beaumont 164 (6%)
Danni Wyatt 114 (4%)
Amy Jones 91 (3%)
Lauren Winfield 44 (2%)

In the past 12 months, across all formats, England have scored 2,704 runs off the bat.

Between them, Charlotte Edwards, Sarah Taylor and Lydia Greenway scored almost half (44%) of these runs.

As my tweenage son might put it…. #JustSayin!

BREAKING: Lydia Greenway Retires From International Cricket

England batsman Lydia Greenway has announced her retirement from international cricket with immediate effect.

In a statement released by the ECB, Greenway is quoted as saying:

“During recent discussions with Mark Robinson about his focus on developing new players against Pakistan this summer, it became clear that my involvement with the England team might be limited moving forwards.  Whilst in the past I have been in a similar position and have fought for my place, I now feel that at this stage in my life, it’s time to take a step back and retire from international cricket with immediate effect, allowing the next generation of players to develop on the world stage.”

Greenway made her England debut in the 1st Test of the 2003 Women’s Ashes and went on to represent her country on 225 occasions, scoring 4,108 runs at a combined average of 26.

Although her form had perhaps been more erratic of late, she continued to make valuable contributions for England, and was voted Fan’s Player of the Series by CRICKETher readers after the last Women’s Ashes.

As with the retirement of Charlotte Edwards a few weeks ago, it seems pretty clear that Greenway also decided to jump having been told she was likely to be pushed anyway; but with the ongoing Sarah Taylor situation, you have to wonder whether losing another senior player, just weeks before the start of a crucial series against Pakistan, where England really have to be looking to take all 6 Women’s International Championship points, is (to paraphrase Oscar Wilde) a misfortune… or starting to look like carelessness?