Heather's Memorable Summer: Part Two

It was a memorable year for Heather Knight.

As well as reaching a number of personal milestones, she also led her side to an impressive run of results.

In part two of our interview with the England skipper, we asked her what impressed her most about the team this summer?

“Different people contributed at different times and that shows that we’ve got match winners up and down the order. The younger players coming in played a big part in that and have given us some really good options. That’s down to the domestic set up which has allowed those players to train and improve their skills so that it’s less of a step up when they do come through. The Hundred has also played a part in that because it’s given these players the chance to play in front of big crowds and on tv. To play under that kind of pressure is so good for those young players and their development. It will give them the mental skills that they need to handle the step up because playing in front of big crowds in big games will be the norm. That will only help to improve the standard and depth of the women’s game.

“The Hundred will get the majority of the headlines when it comes to the development of the women’s game at the moment, and quite rightly so, but getting the regional structures in place has arguably been even more important because it gives the game a base where those players can train as fulltime cricketers. Having that structure in place is brilliant and we recently saw that each of the eight regions will have an additional contracted player next year, which is great. It’s great progress and the ultimate goal is to have a fully professional domestic setup. That’ll take a bit of time, but we’ve already seen the benefit of some of those players training professionally. They’ve really improved and people like Sophie Luff are really reaping those rewards now in the domestic game.”

Heather has also been impressed by how quickly the women’s game is developing.

“I’m a little bit jealous of the younger players coming through,” she joked. “I sometimes remind them of what it was like for me when I was growing up, and just how lucky they are. The women’s game is in a great place at the moment and these girls have got such a huge opportunity to make it in the game. Even if you don’t quite make it at the international level, you’ve got a chance to be a professional domestic cricketer. That’s great and hopefully it will help to attract more people to the game. We used to lose people to the game in their early 20s when they couldn’t make a career out of cricket, but hopefully now we can keep a lot more people, which will help to drive the standard up.

“Players can now earn a living from the game, and I think there will be more opportunities for women within the sport. There are going to be greater opportunities for women umpires and women coaches, and this will allow women to stay within the game, even if it’s not at a playing level.”

What will 2022 hold for Heather and her squad?

“It was nice to spend some time with family at the end of what was a busy summer, but we’re back in training now and we’re determined to be competitive in both the Ashes and the World Cup. We want to defend our crown and it’s going to be a very exciting year. Everyone is super motivated to be ready and do well in those competitions, and then there’s the Commonwealth Games later in the summer. It’s going to be a huge year of cricket.

“We’re creating a really good squad of players who we can turn to, and our standards are in a good place. We will need to be on our A game against Australia because they’re the best team in the world at the moment. They’re playing some good cricket but we’re also in good form. There’s nothing better than an Ashes series and a World Cup back-to-back, and that’s a real motivator. If we can perform to our best, then it could be a memorable year.”

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