Lane plots new path
England women’s coach Mark Lane insists he has the right ingredients at his disposal for a successful retention of their World Twenty20 crown.
Lane made a number of changes for the tournament, dropping the experienced triumvirate of Isa Guha, Caroline Atkins and Ebony Rainford-Brent in preference of a younger batch of players including Heather Knight and the two Danielles, Wyatt and Hazell.
World’s best batsman Claire Taylor returns after a lengthy break, as does injury-plagued Sarah Taylor, and the pair will add some much-needed stability to the top order. Left-arm spinner Holly Colvin, who spent the winter concentrating on her studies at Durham, is also recalled.
“We have gone in a different direction with regards to selection,” Lane told ecb.co.uk moments after announcing the squad.
“With Claire Taylor, Sarah Taylor and Holly Colvin coming back in, we had to strike the right balance within the squad.
“Heather Knight did very well in India and we thought it was a great opportunity for us to get her involved. She opens the batting for Devon and has scored lots of hundreds for them. I think it is 18 in total so that shows she knows how to score runs. She got a hundred for the Academy against the Rest of Europe side last summer too at Worksop.
“Danielle Wyatt did very well in India and, although she has a long way to go, with some hard work she can have a very long international career.
“Danielle Hazell impressed us too both with bat and ball.”
The decision to leave out Guha – the top-ranked bowler just a year ago - Atkins and Rainford-Brent shows the strength in depth in women’s cricket, much to the delight of Lane.
“We've got competition for places which shows our Academy system is working well,” he said.
“The players graduating from the Academy are pushing for places in the top squad which is what we want, so credit to Paul Shaw for that.
“It's always hard leaving people out and all three are good cricketers. Isa is always a handful when the ball swings, Caroline has been ever-reliable while Ebony played some brilliant cricket at times in India. They will all be in contention next summer.”
England are in a tough group with Australia, West Indies and South Africa all clamouring for a place in the semi-finals.
But Lane is optimistic of replicating last year’s form where they lifted the trophy in style at Lord’s and hopes the inconsistent displays on recent trips to West Indies and India are mere blips.
“It will be harder retaining the title than when we won it last year,” he said.
“We are getting better, though, and are confident we can do well. Australia and New Zealand will be strong and West Indies are dangerous. It only takes one or two players to fire to win a game.”