Knight keeps smiling before toughest test
The Guardian|January 17, 2022
England’s preparations have been significantly affected by restrictions before the huge task ahead in Australia
Raf Nicholson

Heather Knight has faced some stiff challenges in her five years as England captain but the four-month odyssey down under – when her side will first attempt to regain the Ashes and then defend the 50-over World Cup won in 2017 – is undoubtedly the toughest of the lot.

The recent Covid-enforced rejigging of the Ashes schedule means the series is condensed into a three-week block, with the three T20s now to be played first, starting on Thursday. They will be followed by the one-offset and three ODIs. From there players will fly to New Zealand to begin a 10-day quarantine, before facing off yet again in both sides’ first encounter of the World Cup on 5 March.

That Knight’s opposite number, Meg Lanning, took a break after the Women’s Big Bash in November to prepare for the intensity of the coming months is telling.

“You always feel a sense of responsibility as captain,” says Knight, acknowledging the acute pressure she faces over the coming weeks. “You want to lead from the front and be successful and help the team win games of cricket. But I’ve had quite a lot of experience of doing that and hopefully it’s pressure I’ve managed pretty well in the past.

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