By Dominic Farrell
England opening batter Heather Knight hopes to leave Australia Women hamstrung when she returns from injury to contest the Ashes in less than a fortnight.
Knight scooped the player of the series award when the two sides met in England over the summer, topping the hosts’ run-charts with the help of a pivotal 157 in the sole Test match.
That battling display in a draw at Wormsley was followed by defeat in the opening one-day international at Lord’s, but England won the remaining two ODIs and completed a clean sweep in the three Twenty20 encounters to cruise to a 12 points to four victory in the multi-format series.
The last of those wins at the Emirates Durham ICG was soured for Knight when see suffered an injured hamstring in the process of being caught behind, and the severity of the injury meant a gruelling stint in rehab for the 23-year-old as her team-mates toured the Caribbean.
“I ripped the hamstring mainly off the bone – not completely but partially ripped it off the bone,” she told ecb.co.uk ahead of England flying to Australia today.
“So, don’t do the splits if you’re not very flexible! I’m very confident of being fit for the first Test and ready to go.”
On the back of her run-making exploits earlier in the year, Knight concedes she is likely to be a marked woman as far as the Australia attack is concerned. Nevertheless, it is also a situation she relishes.
“I guess the Australians, because I did very well this summer, will be looking to get me out and looking to come out hard at me and work out their plans against me,” she said.
“I’ve got to deal with that, combat it and have my own plans in place so I can be successful out there.
“After being successful this summer I really want to continue that and be a little bit more consistent in terms of scoring runs for England and winning games for England, so that’s kind of the next goal on the horizon.”
England will begin their Ashes defence on January 10 at Perth’s iconic WACA – the same venue where the men saw the famous urn slip from their grasp earlier this month.
Along with focusing on the unique characteristics of the Western Australian venue before the Test match begins, Knight concurred with team-mate Sarah Taylor that the trials of Alastair Cook’s team Down Under have served to sharpen the camp’s collective mind.
“The WACA is renowned for being a bit quicker and a bit bouncier and a lot of our preparation as batters has gone into preparing for that,” she said.
“It also looks very hot out there so I think all our fitness training will stand us in good stead.
“Hopefully the pitch won’t crack up as much as the men’s did. There were a few interesting deliveries when the ball hit the cracks but it’s been good, in terms of our preparation to see cricket played on the WACA pitch.”
Knight added: “I think (the men’s series) has kind of made us realise how hard it will be for us and how hard it is to win out in Australia.
“It’s prepared us for that and we’re ready to go out there and take on the challenge.”
Follow the Women's Ashes ball-by-ball via the following media:
Live Scores: www.ecb.co.uk and www.cricket.com.au
Twitter: @ECB_cricket and @SouthernStars
Television: live stream at www.cricket.com.au
Radio: 5 Live Sports Extra, ABC Grandstand or online via www.cricket.com.au/live/audio-stream