Source: ECB

No Surprises in the England Squad to face West Indies

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Lisa Keightley has made a conservative choice for her first squad to represent England.

Heather Knight (capt), Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Freya Davies, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Katie George, Sarah Glenn, Amy Jones (wk), Nat Sciver, Anya Shrubsole, Mady Villiers, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield-Hill and Danni Wyatt.

It’s excellent to see a name adjustment for Lauren Winfield. Congratulations to her.

The sixteen players include no new names, but five who are in the initial stages of their international career: Freya Davies, Katie George, Mady Villiers, Sarah Glenn and Sophia Dunkley. There is one absence through injury, Georgia Elwiss.

The head coach was bound to select from the group that had been training in their Loughborough bubble, but it means that once again there is no room for a young batter to compete for a place. The nearest we get to that category is Dunkley, who performed splendidly with bat and ball in round two of the Heyhoe Flint Trophy and comes in as a replacement for the unfortunate Elwiss.

That means the business of introducing new batting talent is delayed for another year. The Trophy has offered evidence from all over the country of performances that came near to international standards. Seasoned exponents like Georgia Adams, Eve Jones, Marie Kelly and Sophie Luff all made heavy runs and were matched by younger candidates like Sarah Bryce.

The question is: how and when will fresh faces be added to the batting line-up? All the current exponents have been around for at least seven seasons. Their average age is irrelevant, but any sensible team-building project involves the familiar and the less familiar. The old jibe is: it’s harder to be dropped from the team than to get into it.

The bowling tells a different story

Sarah Glenn (leg-spin) and Mady Villiers (off-spin) are two highly promising practitioners who each offer a variation on the left-arm spin of Sophie Ecclestone. Her position is unassailable.

In the seam bowling stakes Freya Davies and Katie George may be the long-term replacements for the Brunt-Shrubsole duo. But they will have to prove themselves over the coming series, otherwise the younger pair of Issy Wong and Lauren Bell may well supplant them. George was unlucky to sustain an injury two years ago just when she was looking to establish herself. Her left-arm approach is an added bonus. Kate Cross bowled some excellent spells against the same West Indians last summer.

Keightley has not named a specialist alternative to Amy Jones as wicket-keeper. Tammy Beaumont would be the standby, though it’s not certain that that extra duty doesn’t affect her batting.

Not only the West Indians must hope they can put on a much stronger show than they did last year. The English too will want to be tested to the full. The 2019 series was a walk in the park for them. Keightley will learn more from seeing her side being challenged by hostile bowling and hard-hitting batting. The tourists’ major players, Deandra Dottin, Hayley Matthews and Stefanie Taylor, can certainly produce the latter.

Their squad:

Stafanie Taylor, Afy Fletcher, Hayley Matthews, Aaliyah Alleyne, Cherry Ann Fraser, Natasha Mclean, Shemaine Campbelle, Shabika Gajnabi, Chedean Nation, Britney Cooper, Sheneta Grimmond, Karishma Ramharack, Shamilia Connell, Chinelle Henry, Kaysia Schultz, Deandra Dottin, Lee Ann Kirby and Shakera Selman.