Cricket

Heather Knight seeks new era as England hope to move on from Ashes drubbing

England captain Heather Knight has heralded her side’s upcoming series in Malaysia against Pakistan as the start of “a new era”, and an opportunity to move on from this summer’s Ashes thrashing.

After being roundly beaten by a 12-4 margin against Australia, England parted company with head coach Mark Robinson, who had taken charge back in 2015.

Lisa Keightley, the former Perth Scorchers coach, has taken over, but will not start her new role officially until January, leaving only a matter of weeks to stamp her mark on the side before the T20 World Cup in Australia in February.

ALSO READ: Five things on Keightley’s to-do list as England coach

Ali Maiden, who served as Robinson’s assistant and will continue in the same job under Keightley, will coach the team in Malaysia, though Keightley is set to join up with the tour for the T20I leg.

“We’ve made a few changes with Robbo [Robinson] not being head coach [any] more,” Knight told the BBC’s Test Match Special, “and we’ve put a lot of hard work in as a group, and made a few changes from a team point of view as well.

“We’re really excited to get out and see if those changes have come to fruition.

“Lisa’s going to come towards the end of the tour and doesn’t take over officially until January. We’re all really excited to start a new era as a team and move on from what was a tough period for us in the Ashes.”

England have made several personnel changes since the summer, signalling a changing of the guard. Experienced allrounders Georgia Elwiss and Laura Marsh have dropped out of the squad, while uncapped legspinner Sarah Glenn, 24-year-old seamer Freya Davies, and 22-year-old spinner Kirstie Gordon come into the squad.

Mady Villiers, the 21-year-old offspinner who took 2-20 on T20I debut against Australia, is also expected to play a bigger role in the series, while Jenny Gunn and Sarah Taylor have both retired.

“We’ve picked quite a young squad actually,” said Knight. “We picked the squad with half an eye on the World Cup, which comes around in Februrary, and it’s a massive chance for these girls to impress.

“Some of them have had a little taste of international cricket, some of them have had no taste of international cricket [at all]. So it’s a chance for them to show what they’ve done in tournaments like the KSL and see if they can transfer it into international cricket.

“It is an exciting period – it’s also a time of a little bit of uncertainty with Lisa not starting yet, so it’s up to us as players to make sure we’re leading ourselves and being really clear on how we go about things and how we do things as individuals and as a team for the new coach to come in. It’s a really exciting time for people to reinvent themselves if they want to as well.”

England are clear favourites for both the ODI and T20I series, not least with Pakistan’s talismanic Sana Mir missing the series to “plan and reset my future objectives and targets”. The first ODI is on Monday, December 9 at Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpar.

Article source: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/1209362.html?CMP=OTC-RSS

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