England have made the bold decision to opt for youthful “aggression” over experience in the selection of their squad for the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, which includes 17-year-olds Alice Capsey and Freya Kemp, and a recall for Bryony Smith, but omits Tammy Beaumont.
“We feel like it’s our best squad,” Lisa Keightley said. “We want to be quite aggressive up top, and the players that we’ve picked we think give us options to do that.”
Kemp, who made her debut for Southern Vipers a matter of weeks ago, offers a left-arm pace option, but has also shown herself capable of being explosive with the bat, as she proved just last Saturday for Vipers against Stars at Hove.
Capsey, meanwhile, has been picked at a point when she is just starting to regain some form in domestic cricket, but Keightley said that she felt the teenager was now ready to make the step up to internationals.
“It’s always great to get on a bandwagon really early but I think she’s matured,” she said. “Going over to Australia and seeing her travel and play a little bit under the radar – her time is now. She gives us lots of options – she can float in the batting order and tends to be able to move quite freely with a good strike rate in doing that.”
Bryony Smith, Keightley suggested, could play a similar role – either as an opener or at no.6 or 7, “hitting boundaries at the back-end” – while both of course also offer England some further options in terms of their off-spin bowling.
Freya Davies, meanwhile, makes it back into the side after being omitted from the ODI squad against South Africa – so it’s possible that England have realised that having Nat Sciver open the bowling and go at 7 or 8 an over isn’t actually ideal! “T20 cricket, she’s really skilled,” Keightley said. “At the back end of an innings she generally is quite a good defensive bowler. We know what she can do when teams are coming at her, it’s being able to take those wickets up front.”
The omission of Beaumont, who has been one of England’s most successful players in recent years, comes as a big shock to everyone; but Keightley was firm in her belief that Beaumont is not, as it stands, one of England’s best players in the 20-over format:
“In 50-over cricket you can’t match Tammy’s record, it speaks for itself. In T20 I think there’s still some room for growth and improvement there, and now it’s up to her to go away and do it,” she said.
The full squad is below:
- Heather Knight (Western Storm, captain)
- Maia Bouchier (Southern Vipers)
- Katherine Brunt (Northern Diamonds)
- Alice Capsey (South East Stars)
- Kate Cross (Thunder)
- Freya Davies (South East Stars)
- Sophia Dunkley (South East Stars)
- Sophie Ecclestone (Thunder)
- Sarah Glenn (Central Sparks)
- Amy Jones (Central Sparks)
- Freya Kemp (Southern Vipers)
- Nat Sciver (Northern Diamonds)
- Bryony Smith (South East Stars)
- Issy Wong (Central Sparks)
- Danni Wyatt (Southern Vipers)