INTERVIEW: Lisa Keightley – England Battling “Mental Fatigue” But Will “Learn and Grow”

Speaking to the media after England’s series win over New Zealand, Head Coach Lisa Keightley was in more of a reflective mood than you might expect, given England’s 200-run margin of victory in the final ODI.

“I think we learned a lot from the series,” she says. “It was nice to finish today and show the potential we have with the bat. It’s always good to get 300 – it gives us more chance when we go out to bat first, if we can put big runs on the board and make it hard for teams to chase.”

But Keightley was the first to concede that England have been far from perfect across the whole series.

“I wouldn’t say we were at our best throughout,” she admits.

The batting unit comes in for particular scrutiny, with Keightley suggesting they were struggling to adapt back to 50-over mode after playing a lot of short-form cricket this summer.

“I think some of the batters had pretty soft dismissals, and I think that was a little bit [to do with] ending the series against India in T20 form, then playing The Hundred. The transition into 50-over was too slow – we were playing high-risk shots too early in the innings and not hitting down the ground.”

“In our middle order at times we lost clusters of wickets, which we need to improve on. There were key moments where we had New Zealand on the ropes, and then we lost double wickets and we didn’t capitalise on the good work we did – we lost clusters of wickets and that stopped the momentum and put pressure on on us.”

Keightley accepts that this is in part because the players are tired.

“The girls need a break,” she says. “We’ve had two international series, and The Hundred in the middle. Where the girls are used to going back into domestic cricket, with The Hundred they are on telly all the time – you’ve got to perform and the games come really quickly – and then you roll straight over and into an international series. I think that’s new for the players and they’re not used to it.”

“We got through it, but I think at times the players have struggled with a bit of mental fatigue.”

Keightley accepts that this is the reality of the new world of professional women’s cricket, and she believes in her players ability to adapt.

“They’ve got to get used to it because it’s only gonna be like that moving forward; and I think we’ll learn and grow from the experience.”

But there was also a hint that the calendar may have to be looked at, promising in future to “make sure they [the players] get the break that they need” after going from an international series into The Hundred and then straight into another international series.

The long end to the summer has however offered the opportunity to experiment a little with both ends of the one-day lineup.

It looks like the 7-batters strategy is one Keightley feels England can take forwards in ODI cricket.

“We experimented this time with playing seven batters and taking five bowlers in, plus Heather which would give us six. I think if we’re going to put pressure on Australia and India, and South Africa and New Zealand, we need to get more runs. And to do that, if we go in with seven batters I think we can be really powerful at the back end of the innings, which we saw today.”

With the bowling it has been more about combinations and matchups.

“Our bowling unit we changed-up nearly every game. We want to make sure that we’ve got all our bases covered when we’re playing different teams, so we looked at different combinations; and it was really good to have five games to do that.”

England will obviously get a little break now, but they’ll be back in training very soon, and Keightley makes it clear that she is looking for determination and focus from the players.

“It will be ‘eyes on the prize’ – working really hard leading up through Christmas, and going out to Australia in January. We won’t get back until March at the end of the World Cup, so it’s game on!”

3 thoughts on “INTERVIEW: Lisa Keightley – England Battling “Mental Fatigue” But Will “Learn and Grow”

  1. Its been interesting reading the reviews and articles after the series. Going in, England were near unbackable favourites – ranked #2 in the world, NZ ranked a distant #5, barely above #6. Its touched on here that while the scoreline was heavily in England’s favour (4-1), it was probably a closer series than that in the 1st 4 games at least and was close to being 2-2 going to a decider

    That ‘closer than expected’ result seems to be put down to all the cricket England played, injuries, COVID bubbles, length of season, rotation et al. Those are large challenges. Is it not though a little unfair how little credit the NZ bowling attack is given? Missing 2 front-liners, lead bowler playing first matches after 3 surgeries, away from home, lack of cricket, yet bowled England out 3 times, and had most of them out in the remaining two matches.

    No doubt England were below their best at batting, whatever the reason, in the 1st 4 matches. Was little or none of that due to NZ’s bowling?


  2. Oscar it’s little surprise about England being bowled out a lot – and the batters don’t seem to mind that much or let it affect them. The approach has been for several years now to go for run rate rather than preserve wickets, and most of the side now err way over to the risk-taking side rather than the “sensible” side. It can be frustrating at times. Sciver and Jones looked totally out of nick in the first 2-3 matches then came out like they’d never known what bad form was in the last couple of games. Remarkable.

    At the start of the ODIs, this time, with the sudden change from a lot of T20 and Hundred, the aggression did get a little too extreme which is why they had to change things. The batters are nearly all very aggressive and sometimes have little regard for their wickets. That does mean that the team will lose a lot of wickets and as fans we’ve gotten used to that over several years. It’s not really that much of a thing to be honest anymore. Run rate is more important.

    I harp on about it a bit but there doesn’t seem to be anything to be done about playing a lower-risk game… the players love playing attacking shots, know they are the best we have (although improvement in domestic is starting to put pressure on under-achievers) and don’t get criticised much for it. It’s great when it comes off… and looks a bit rubbish when it doesn’t. Some players like Knight, Beaumont and Wyatt recently, can play a more holding role occasionally and are normally very good when they do, England can be a bit of an outlier in the way they play but do have quite a high run-rate and get higher totals more often than they might otherwise. We’ve grown to love them for it.

    New Zealand’s bowling is their biggest asset and several bowlers have seen vast recent improvements (Rowe, Tahuhu). They love to bowl first and won most of the tosses in the series, always putting us in. Combined with helpful overcast English bowling conditions in September and you have a near perfect-storm for the NZ bowlers to succeed. In that sense I do regard NZ as a bit of a one-trick pony though… how often will they choose to bat first I wonder in the world cup? It doesn’t seem to be a sustainable tactic.


    • Hmm – points well made about the English approach, and I think that was something they’ve been pursuing since Coach Robinson had the boundaries brought in? Its certainly paid off, and they and Australia are a class above the rest of the world (or at least have been).

      I wonder if its fair to say that ‘”it’s little surprise about England being bowled out” though? Bear in mind NZ could only take 15 wickets across the 3 match series earlier this year. Home conditions etc – and England hadn’t played a lot of cricket. 4 of those wickets were taken by Amelia Kerr in just one match, Rowe took none.

      No doubt NZ’s batting is weak and they’ll be lucky to stay top 5 at this rate. (When Bates/Devine/Satterthwaite go there is little in the queue and they aren’t the joint force they once were) Just seems slightly unfair to not acknowledge that the NZ bowlers at least contributed to England’s woes, it wasn’t all (or even mainly) self-inflicted.


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