Natalie Sciver: At the end of the tournament, you should know you’ve given everything for each other

Natalie Sciver exults after a wicket. © Getty Images

Natalie Sciver hopes crowds at the Hundred this summer can help recreate the atmosphere that helped England win the World Cup on home soil in 2017. The England allrounder has been preparing to captain Trent Rockets in cricket’s newest format, but inevitably she is reminded of that famous victory against India at Lord’s.

Watching the thrilling tournament opener at the Oval on Wednesday (July 21), Sciver was able to draw parallels with England’s experience four years ago.

“It just looked like such a great game and a great atmosphere to be part of,” she says. “We don’t get many opportunities to play in front of crowds like that and having that energy from the crowd is brilliant.”

“I know as a player, playing in the World Cup Final four years ago today and just having that atmosphere, that energy that you get from the crowd is amazing. So yeah, I was quite jealous actually, that I wasn’t part of that game, but it was a brilliant game to start off the tournament.”

Anya Shrubsole celebrates with England

“I still get goosebumps watching all the videos of the Women’s World Cup 2017 final!” © Getty Images

Although it has been four years since England’s dramatic victory, Sciver can instantly recall the emotions she felt at key moments of that World Cup final when she scored a half-century before Anya Shrubsole bowled a magical spell.

Sitting in the stands at Trent Bridge after training on Friday (July 23) she says: “What time is it now? Two o’clock? We would have just been about finishing our batting innings [at Lord’s], feeling a bit nervous that we maybe haven’t got enough runs, but knowing that the crowd gives us an extra 10.”

“I mean, what a day it was. I still get goosebumps watching all the videos and just allow myself to go back there for a little bit. It’s brilliant, it’s a memory that will stick with me forever.”

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“And a great way to celebrate the anniversary by hopefully, recreating some atmospheres with the Hundred. I reckon people at the Oval would have said that it was pretty close to that [on Wednesday]. So, I’m looking forward to playing here and hopefully, we get a good crowd who are willing to participate in the game and back the home team.”

Sciver’s priority since England’s multi-format series against India has been to create a cohesive Rockets team with a unity of purpose before they take the field against Southern Brave in their opening game of the tournament on Saturday. She admits that it can be difficult to build relationships that are not just surface level in short tournaments like this.

“But that’s something that we’re focusing on as a team and building that trust between us all, to know that you can look each other in the eye on the pitch and know that as you’re walking off at the end of the tournament, you know that you’ve given everything for each other and for yourself and done yourself proud. But I think all-in-all, we’re coming together well as a team.”

Aware that this will not happen overnight, Sciver has placed an emphasis on the players enjoying themselves as a team, as much as social distancing rules allow, both at training and during games themselves.

As well as England teammates Katherine Brunt and Sarah Glenn and New Zealand veteran Rachel Priest, she highlights Scotland opening bowler Kathryn Bryce as someone to watch.

“Kathryn is obviously very experienced at the top of the order and taking wickets is something that comes naturally to her, so I think she’ll be a great asset for us.”

“Then we’ve got the other overseas players, Heather Graham and Sammy-Jo Johnson, who aren’t lacking in experience of shorter format cricket and know how to play tournaments and have been on winning sides.”

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Sciver has also been busy getting used to the new regulations in the Hundred. A practice game helped crystallize her plans and left her feeling comfortable about the format. Like all captains in the tournament, she is most concerned about completing the bowling innings in good time, so the team does not lose a fielder at the back end.

Knowing when to give a bowler 10 balls instead of five will be another key captaincy decision.

“The Hundred is slightly different, but I guess when you get out there apart from not changing after each five balls, it’s the same,” she says. “You’re still facing a bowler, you’re still trying to hit boundaries, the pitch is the same. I’m sure it’ll come naturally.

“I guess it [deciding when to give a bowler 10 balls] depends how a team is going. But yeah, I guess that’s definitely something that you get a chance to use as a tactical element if a bowler is a great match-up for that batter, or if one batter hasn’t faced yet in the over. So, we’ll see how that works out. I think that it’s something that we’ll have to be adaptable with.”

Sciver is aware of the strength among today’s opposition with several of her England teammates in the Southern Brave squad.

“We know quite a few of them, obviously, Anya [Shrubsole] and Dunks [Sophia Dunkley], and Danni (Danielle) Wyatt coming off a brilliant score in the last T20I. So yeah, they’re in form at the moment.”

“I guess we’ll see how we go. It’s both our first games in this tournament, and I’m sure there’ll be a few nerves, but hopefully we can use that to our advantage. You can be nervous before most games but using that and trying to put that into performance is something that will be important for both sides, so yeah, it will be a good game.”