Heather Knight wants England to go head-to-head against Australia during the T20Is which will begin the multi-format Ashes in Adelaide and the captain expects the players to perform way better than the one-sided 2019 series.
England have not got their hands on the Ashes since victory in Australia in 2013-14 and the previous series ended at 12-4, which brought the end of Mark Robinson’s term as head coach, although the last time they were held Down Under in 2017-18, their overall scoreline was tied 8-8 . Knight again called the build-up “quite average” with the range of Covid-related problems that had been thrown England’s way, but now that the teams have arrived in Adelaide, she said the minds have been focused.
As with many tours in the Covid-19 era, England have a larger-than-usual squad which is backed by further players in the A group which will have concurrent matches against Australia A. The depth of the home side is much talked about, but Knight believes England also now have a far wider range of players capable of performing at the highest level. There was a glimpse of this when the main side was twice beaten in warm-up matches in Canberra.
Knight has her say ahead of the opening match of Ashes
“We are going to have to be positive and trust our game massively against them,” Knight said. “They are very aggressive, and we want to be the same and go right back at them. There’s a bigger squad to pick from, I’ve certainly noticed that in the last year to 18 months,” Knight said. “The number of players we are talking about has grown all the time, which we feel is a huge strength for us. Having those selection headaches is really nice.”
“I have made it no secret that the last Ashes [series] was tough, we massively underperformed, and didn’t play anywhere near our potential in 2019. Everything we’ve done has been about addressing that, and when you have a big loss like that, it leaves a bit of soul-searching and what you can do better. We definitely did that, we feel like we’ve built as a group, taken a lot more ownership and have a lot more leaders in the side.”
“T20 cricket is one of our strongest formats, so I think that will suit us quite nicely, we are really clear how we want to go about playing T20,” Knight said. “Think the last few series we’ve really looked to go hard in that first game, previously it’s been a weakness of ours. They’ll obviously be nerves around, that’s completely normal, but we are confident we can cope with that and punch first against Australia.”