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Sport Guha: Knight over 'devastating' Ashes

23:50  19 february  2020
23:50  19 february  2020 Source:   skysports.com

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Captain Heather Knight 's partnership with new coach Lisa Keightley makes England strong contenders at the Women's T20 World Cup in Australia, Isa England were thumped 12-4 on points by Australia last summer in an Ashes defeat Guha described as " devastating ", but are second favourites, behind

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a close up of a person in a red shirt: Heather Knight, England Women, T20 cricket © Getty Heather Knight, England Women, T20 cricket

Captain Heather Knight's partnership with new coach Lisa Keightley makes England strong contenders at the Women's T20 World Cup in Australia, Isa Guha told the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast.

England were thumped 12-4 on points by Australia last summer in an Ashes defeat Guha described as "devastating", but are second favourites, behind the Southern Stars, for the T20 showpiece, which gets under way in Sydney on Friday with the hosts taking on India.

Lisa Keightley has succeeded Mark Robinson as head coach and will hope to help England to just a second T20 World Cup title and first since 2009, with Knight's team having been beaten by Australia in three of the past four finals, including in the West Indies in 2018.

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Speaking on our Women's T20 World Cup preview podcast - which you can listen to in the player below or by downloading here - Guha said: "It was a devastating Ashes.

"The girls will have been hurt by that, Heather especially and it's hard not to take it personally when you are the captain.

"This has been a good renewal for her and we have seen that with some of her performances for Western Storm, who she led to the Kia Super League title.

"She has gone to another level with the bat and is really trying to lead this team from the front.

"With Lisa Keightley there, with all her knowledge, experience of Australian pitches and her calmness, that can make a good partnership."

Keightley's previous coaching roles include stints at Australia Women, the England Women academy side and Women's Big Bash side Perth Scorchers, with the 48-year-old leading the latter to back-to-back WBBL finals.

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Keightley's former Australia team-mate Mel Jones - who joined Isa and host Lydia Greenway on the podcast - said: "The word that comes to mind with Lisa is autonomy.

"She likes to create an environment where players are driving their own development both as a person and as a player. It's not just her telling them [what to do].

"That allows people to be relaxed and take ownership. The fact she has coached the academy team in England and knows the players is a bonus as well."

England have been positioning Tammy Beaumont in the middle order of late rather than in her regular spot up top - but Guha feels the Kent star could open the batting during the T20 World Cup as she looks ahead to a potential meeting with Australia in the knockout stages.

"I think Tammy has developed into a player who can be adaptable in all conditions at any stage in the batting line-up. That's how she started her career really. Down at No 7 and then up and down," said Guha, who played 113 games for England across all formats.

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The five-Test Ashes series stands at one match apiece but the change in momentum has been massive and quite possibly terminal for England. They had every right to be confident but even they cannot have expected the capitulation that followed, with England bowled out in 37 overs for 103, a

"I think she would prefer to open but has the skills to see England over the line in the middle order. But I do think Lisa [Keightley] has a decision to make over the opening pair.

"I think she wants to back Amy Jones but if she gets the feeling it might not be the right choice then I think Tammy could go back up to opening."

Jones has a top score of 37 in her last seven innings and struggled against Ellyse Perry during England's Ashes thrashing on home soil in 2019.

"Amy has clarity of role as an opener but if she was in a semi-final against Australia and Perry was opening the bowling I would want Danni Wyatt on strike. It's not a skills thing, it's a mindset thing."

On the importance of all-rounder Nat Sciver - who has been battling a knee injury - being fit to start the tournament, Guha added: "We have seen Nat strike the ball ridiculously well over the last few years but I think she is even more important with the ball.

"She has stepped up. She opened the bowling in the absence of Katherine Brunt in the West Indies and bowled really well in the recent tri-series against India and Australia.

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"She was back to her best with excellent lines and lengths and can handle the pressure in the powerplay, so England would miss her a lot."

England are sandwiched between four-time champions Australia and 2018 semi-finalists India in the title odds.

"Australia have the best team on paper, there is no doubt about that," added Guha. "They have the depth, the variety, the power-hitting, the experience of playing big games of cricket.

"It's just a question of how they will handle the pressure. They have generally been good at that, a bit better than other teams. That is born of their complete and utter confidence in their own ability.

"How do they deflect that pressure this time as hosts? Is that the role of the coach Matthew Mott or captain Meg Lanning to keep them in the bubble?"

On India, Jones said: "They are exciting. Four teenagers in the group, youngest squad here and a style of play you know will have them getting silverware in the cabinet over the next few years.

"I still think they are a bit up and down. When they are on they are on but they can fall away pretty quickly and I worry a little about their tail and their spinners against teams like England and Australia who have batters who can hit well over cover."

Also on the Sky Cricket Podcast, Isa, Mel and Lydia discussed…

Knight's century crushes Thailand

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England hammer Pakistan to boost semi-final hopes .
England boosted their hopes of reaching the semi-finals of the Women's T20 World Cup as they comfortably beat Pakistan by 42 runs.Captain Heather Knight continued her fine form with the bat, following up her century in the win over Thailand with 62 from 47 balls as England posted 158-7 from their 20 overs.

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