Women's T20 World Cup: Semis defeat 'will not define' England's entertainers, says skipper Heather Knight

by IANS |

Cape Town, Feb 25 (IANS) Aggressive, attacking and entertaining cricket has been at the forefront of England's approach at the ICC Women's T20 World Cup 2023 in South Africa. And while the semifinal defeat to hosts South Africa will sting, it was not their style of play that proved Englands undoing.

The playing style of the England women's team under coach Jon Lewis has clear parallels with the 'Bazball' approach of the England men's Test team.

Skipper Heather Knight feels that this new approach and the confidence her players gained from such tactics will boost the team's confidence in future.

Taking the positive option and looking to assert themselves in the game, England's batters followed the same blueprint in Friday's semifinal at Cape Town, with openers Sophia Dunkley and Danni Wyatt tearing out of the blocks.

England's opening pair smashed 53 in five overs before Dunkley was dismissed, and the attacking shots kept on coming as England tried and ultimately failed in the face of a brilliant bowling and fielding performance from South Africa.

Just days earlier, England had racked up 213 against Pakistan in the biggest total ever seen at a Women's T20 World Cup, and captain Heather Knight believes that performance helped prove that the strategy is the right one, even if the execution against the Proteas was perhaps not.

"I think we got pretty close to chasing the world record score, so I think it proves that it's a pretty good strategy," Knight said in her media conference after the semi-final loss.

"I think Sophia and Danni at the top of the order were outstanding and got us ahead of the game. We were well ahead of where South Africa were, but they were able to obviously pile runs on at the back end as we weren't able to take the wickets, unfortunately.

"But, yeah, I think the mentality has been outstanding, particularly in the batting group. We've really looked to adopt something a little bit different."

Playing such positive cricket isn't a completely new thing for an England side who have been impressing in both white-ball formats in recent years, reaching the final of last year's Women's Cricket World Cup.

But the appointment of Lewis in November saw attacking intent given even more weight, with the coach keen to back a mantra that is sweeping through the game.

"It's something we laid the foundations for I think before Jon came in, but we've noticed a real shift and I think it's proving that it's entertaining," Knight said.

"It's good to watch and we always talk about trying to fit the mindset to the conditions as well and being smart with it.

"It's not purely about risk-taking and as a batter, it's always about weighing up your risks to reward. But in T20 cricket, you don't have too much time to not take risks in my opinion," she said after the match.

Knight believes that the experience will be of great benefit to a squad that contains plenty of young talent.

"I think the younger players in particular will learn a lot from that. A lot of them have played in front of big crowds, but when there's so much on it and when it's a World Cup semi-final, that does add to it. I think we'll keep faith in T20 cricket, sometimes you're going to lose games, unfortunately. And today wasn't our day," Knight was quoted as saying by the ICC in a report on its website.

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