Mark Robinson has announced a very settled squad for the series against the West Indies that starts on Thursday 6 June.
Knight (Berkshire captain)
He must be delighted to welcome back to the fold Sarah Taylor, Sophie Ecclestone and Jenny Gunn, none of whom appeared on tour in Sri Lanka (Ecclestone damaging a finger at just the wrong moment). It gives the group a very predictable look. But it comes at a cost: three young pretenders, Linsey Smith, Sophia Dunkley and Freya Davies find themselves omitted. This is when you start wondering whether it’s harder to be dropped from a team than to gain entry.
Davies’ omission is good news for Kate Cross who has had her share of disappointments over recent seasons. Smith is up against three talented spinners, the Lancashire left-armers Ecclestone and Alex Hartley and Kent’s veteran Laura Marsh. Though spin is very much in favour these days, a fourth option wasn’t felt to be needed as the skipper can come on to bowl some very tidy overs if needed. Likewise, Dunkley hasn’t yet been able to force the issue, either with her hard-hitting batsmanship or her leg-spin, but she did produce a splendid hundred for Middlesex recently.
The Windies come fresh from a 3-0 trouncing of Ireland in T20 format, but they know the coming challenge will be far tougher. They have been denied the presence of Deandra Dottin, their outstanding all-rounder, through injury. It remains to be seen how big a handicap this will prove to the team’s balance and overall performance. Stefanie Taylor (the skipper), Hayley Matthews and Merissa Aguilleira are three of the more familiar names of players the hosts won’t want to have appearing in their nightmares over the coming days.
They too will have to step up from their Sri Lankan tour, which was an unblemished series of triumphs.
Vital points are at stake in the ICC Women’s Championship. If England add four more to their current 18 (two per match), they will qualify for the next World Cup in New Zealand.
Let’s hope the weather behaves itself. We can’t possibly hope for a summer of unblemished sunshine of the 2018 variety. The forecast for Leicester isn’t too clever, so we must put on our best smile for the Clerk to the Weather.
The 3 ODI Fixtures:
6 June: Grace Road Leicester
9 June: New Road, Worcester
13 June: County Ground Chelmsford