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England women's cricket team captain Heather Knight 'super excited' to host Pakistan after 8 years

England women’s cricket team captain Heather Knight ‘super excited’ to host Pakistan after 8 years

طوبیٰ Tooba 3 months ago 0 230

England womens team captain Heather Knight speaks to Geo News in an interview. — Geo News/File
England women’s team captain Heather Knight speaks to Geo News in an interview. — Geo News/File

BIRMINGHAM: England Women’s cricket team captain Heather Knight says she is “super excited” to host the Pakistan women’s team next month. 

The green shirts will be visiting England after a gap of eight years for a bilateral series where they will lock horns with the home side first in three T20 internationals, followed by three One Day Internationals. 

Speaking exclusively to Geo News, the 2017 cricket World Cup-winning captain, Knight said that Pakistan women have shown some good form in the recently concluded series against New Zealand and her team is not taking the matches against Pakistan lightly and is fully prepared to take on the visitors.

“I don’t think it will be an easy run at all. They have just got a new captain in Nida Dar, some of the players are performing more consistently and they’ve had some really good results recently so it won’t be easy at all. We are expecting a tough match against them and hopefully, we can bring our game and entertain the crowd,” the England women’s team’s captain said.

Knight told Geo News that the Pakistan women’s team has some really talented cricketers but for her Fatima Sana will be the one player to watch. She has played with a young Pakistani all-rounder in the FAIRBREAK cricket tournament and was very impressed, it will be exciting to play against her at home.

“Fatima is a great kid and she’s got lots of energy enthusiasm, lots of passion. She is developing into a good bowler too so she is certainly the one to watch. I really get on with the girls in the Pakistan team especially with Fati (Fatima Sana) as I said and Nida is a really lovely girl too.

“I always enjoy chatting with those girls and hearing what their life is like and how cricket is for them in their country. So it should be an exciting series and look forward to seeing them on English soil,” the English captain said.

Pakistan women’s team have played in England a few times, more recently in 2022 during the Commonwealth Games, but England women have never visited Pakistan.

In 2021, English team was scheduled to play three ODIs and two T20Is but the series was called off by the ECB due to security issues with the England men’s team who were scheduled to make a brief stop in Pakistan to play two T20Is en route to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the ICC T20 World Cup.

Since then England’s men’s squad have visited Pakistan twice in 2022 first for the seven-match T20I series and later for a three-match test series. But the England women’s team’s tour hasn’t been rescheduled. Heather Knight told Geo News that she is not sure the tour hasn’t been scheduled again. 

“I’d love to go obviously isn’t in our future tours program for whatever reason at the moment I’m not sure why. Certainly would love to see it in the calendar so hopefully that can happen in the future,” she said. 

Heather Knight herself has never been to Pakistan but now wants to visit after the feedback she’s got from her fellow female cricketers who visited last year to play in exhibition matches ahead of PSL. 

“Few of our girls went to the PSL and played in it like Danny Wyatt, Tammy Beaumont and others and they said it was a brilliant experience. It’s a country where I’d love to go to as it’s meant to be very beautiful and from what I’ve heard it’s really nice to visit. 

The England women’s team’s skipper said that her all-time favourite cricketer from Pakistan is the former captain and the best left-arm pacer ever to grace the game, Wasim Akram, as she loved watching him play.

Pakistan women are set to play the first game of the tour against England at Edgbaston Stadium on 11 May 2024. Last year when England played against Australia in the women’s Ashes nearly 20,000 people attended the game which was a new record for a women’s game in England. For Pakistan women’s game already more than 10,000 tickets have been sold.

Knight is hopeful that a high number of ticket sales and the strong presence of the Pakistani community in Birmingham will result in strong support for both teams on the ground. 

“Obviously there’s a strong Pakistani community here in Birmingham so hopefully the support will be really good for both teams and looking forward to this. It’s gonna be a good series and excited to have them over here. 

“I heard that the Edgbaston game is in particular selling really well I think there’s been more than seventeen thousand tickets sold across the summer for women’s games already for us which is awesome. So we’d love to have their support for us, to get them behind us and hopefully, we will entertain them”, she added.

Recently the England and Wales Cricket Board announced a new three their first class system for women’s cricket to replace the existing domestic structure.

Eight first-class counties Durham, Essex, Hampshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Surrey and Warwickshire have been awarded Tier 1 women’s team status from 2025 whereas two additional county teams will expand it from eight to 10 teams by 2027 with an intent to grow to 12 teams by the 2029 season.

Speaking about the new domestic structure for women’s cricket, Knight said that this will help to boost the number of female players in domestic cricket providing them equal opportunities to flourish in the game as their male counterparts.

“Bringing more investment into the women’s game is really cool. I think it’s a huge opportunity for the countries as well. The growth of women’s cricket is gonna be huge and hopefully, that’s gonna lead to the counties and the game having more success, more money and more people playing which is really important”.

“So yes a really good step up and it’s quite exciting to see how it would develop. I think it just simplifies things a little bit more, having like 1 club and 2 teams male and female and the most important thing is equal access to opportunity and facilities which hopefully this will bring,” the English skipper concluded.

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