Katherine Brunt is a big loss but she made the right decision: Lisa Keightley
England’s Head Coach Lisa Keightley believes that their side will miss the services of Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole in the only Test against South Africa starting June 27 but it presents the youngsters in the team to step up and rise to the occasion.
“I suppose it’s the end of an era and we need to create a new one and see which players are going to stick their hand up and lead the way with the ball. We’ll wait and see how it goes,” said Keightley.
Brunt announced her retirement on June 18 and is seen as a big loss for England ahead of the Test match at Taunton. Keightley mentioned that she had a conversation with Brunt before the latter announced her retirement from Test cricket and that the decision was taken while keeping in mind the workload management.
“She (Brunt) wants to play the Commonwealth Games and be in a really good spot, fit and healthy to do it. We know after the last two Test matches, ten days after she’s really struggled, and we know with multi format series, they come thick and fast, so we knew it was going to be a juggle in the end.”
“She didn’t have the loads behind her to play in this Test match. It would have been high risk and sitting down with Katherine and talking it through, it was pretty obvious that the Commonwealth Games is a focus and she wasn’t going to get up for this Test match.”
“And then with those conversations, she’s gone away and thought about it and probably thought the Ashes was too far next year. So if she didn’t play in this one, she probably wasn’t going to play a Test. So it’s been an emotional few weeks for Katherine coming to that decision and working out.”
Keightley believes that Brunt has made the right choice and with the CWG around the corner she can be a huge asset for the England team in that event.
“I think she’s made the smart call, and that is to walk away from Test match cricket, which was really hard, and she’ll be a big loss but at the same time, knowing that we’re going to have her in the best place that she can be leading into the Commonwealth Games is quite exciting for us in white ball cricket.”
England have a new-look pace attack in Emily Arlott, Lauren Bell and Freya Davies and the Head Coach believes that all three have different unique selling points about them.
“Emily Arlott bowls a really heavy ball and good Test match lines and threatens the outside edge. She moves the ball off the seam and is a really decent batter as well. And I think she’s good in the field too. So obviously last year she was really close in getting the nod, but with Katherine, and I suppose we took what we knew where this year we don’t have that luxury. So from that point of view, Emily looks really good and definitely an option.”
“Lauren Bell, another one who’s over six foot. She did really well with us out in New Zealand, and you could see her improving all the time. Her craft, she swings the ball back in, so she gives us another option.”
“And then you got Freya Davis, who’s been in and around the squad. When she’s had her opportunity she’s taken and performed really well and she’s more of a swing bowler.”
Although Keightley is fairly confident with all three seamers, she didn’t drop any hints as to who will get the opportunity to play in the Test match.
“So from all three bowlers, we’ve got three different options, so that’s quite exciting and we’ll see how they go throughout the week and see who’s looking the best and finalise who gets the opportunity to play their first Test match.”
Keightley also expressed her disappointment on ICC Chairman Greg Barclay’s recent statement wherein he had mentioned that the days of Test cricket in the Women’s circuit are numbered and that white-ball cricket is the way ahead.
“As a coach and being in women’s cricket for a few decades now, it’s disappointing to hear. I feel like we can challenge him and we can show that we want to lead the way and the way to that I suppose is to play more Test matches. Realistically I don’t think every country can play this format but I do think we should stretch and challenge and still have the desire to improve women’s cricket and to grow it, and I think there are a few countries that are putting their hands up to play Test match cricket for that purpose.”