15-Sep-2023 • 23 hrs ago
Nat Sciver-Brunt expects to return to England’s bowling attack for their winter tour of India after playing a curtailed role with the ball through the summer.
The world’s top-ranked allrounder and batter in ODIs, Sciver-Brunt returned to England’s 50-over side against Sri Lanka purely as a batter having sat out the T20s to rest.
After picking up a knee injury during the Ashes Test in June, Sciver-Brunt bowled six overs across the three T20Is and 24 overs in the three ODIs for five wickets in total. She still finished as England’s player of the Ashes, with 404 runs at an average of 57.71 and including back-to-back ODI centuries.
The reasons given behind not bowling against Sri Lanka were a combination of giving others an opportunity – young seamers Mahika Gaur and Lauren Filer were outstanding on ODI debut and beyond – and allowing Sciver-Brunt to recover from her exertions during the Ashes.
“The plan is to be back for the India series in December,” Sciver-Brunt said at the post-match presentation after England won the third and final match, reduced to 31 overs a side by rain in Leicester, by a thumping 161 runs. The result sealed a 2-0 series win in the 50-over leg of the tour, and was built on Sciver-Brunt’s clinical 120 off 74 balls.
“The decision not to bowl post-Ashes, I guess, was more to give the body a bit of a rest and to train without having to rush around and doing everything all the time, so it was quite nice actually.
Charlie Dean claimed her maiden ODI five-for at Grace Road•Getty Images
“But I’m looking forward to picking up the ball again. When you’re playing games I want to influence as much as I can in every part of the game. That’s the best part of being an allrounder. Fielding and not being able to influence with the ball was a little bit frustrating but I was happy to have the body break.”
Also getting an opportunity was off-spinner Charlie Dean, who took her maiden international five-wicket haul as England bowled Sri Lanka out for 112 chasing a target of 274. Dean and legspinner Sarah Glenn led the slow-bowling attack in the absence of world No. 1 Sophie Ecclestone, who was originally rested from the tour then dislocated her right, non-bowling shoulder during the Hundred.
Jon Lewis, England’s head coach, told reporters after the match that the decision not to bowl Sciver-Brunt was also about team balance, and her longevity as an allrounder.
“Nat’s a brilliant allrounder,” Lewis. “We’ve just made the decision with Nat to again prioritise when she bowls, not only to give other people opportunity, but to make sure that we have Nat as an allrounder for as long as we possibly can.
“That’s really important for this team. The balance that she brings for the team makes it much easier for me to put Charlie in the team and for me, that’s fantastic, especially when we’re going to the subcontinent.
“The fact that she can bowl seam in the Powerplay and do a really good job with the new ball makes it easier for me to select three spinners in the side, which is something that I really want to do in those conditions.”
Mahika Gaur celebrates with team-mates after taking the wicket of Sri Lanka’s Anushka Sanjeewani•PA Images via Getty Images
Dean highlights the depth that is growing in England Women’s ranks. She announced herself as a highly skilled, dependable bowler who is also energetic in the field during New Zealand’s visit in 2021.
Some 40 white-ball matches for her country on, Dean has clearly impressed Lewis, but she admitted that being overlooked for the Ashes Test squad, having made her Test debut during the last edition of the series in Australia 18 months prior, “hit me a bit hard”.
She got over that disappointment by working with Gareth Breese, the former Durham allrounder and England Women performance coach, on improving “for the next opportunity that comes”, as opposed to focusing on her bowling stats.
Lewis said: “She’s a fantastic bowler. We’ve had to make some really, really tough selection decisions around Charlie over the summer … really, really tricky, and probably nothing to do with what Charlie’s actually done on the field and more to do with the balance of the team and the fact that we’ve got another off spinner in [allrounder] Alice Capsey that we probably underuse as well. We are really, really blessed with the spin bowlers on our side.”
Similarly, Maia Bouchier, pounced on her chance, making her ODI debut after 22 T20Is in the middle order during the first match in Durham before opening in Leicester after Emma Lamb suffered a back spasm. Bouchier scored a 65-ball 95 and shared a 193-run partnership with Sciver-Brunt.
The performances of the likes of Player of the Series Filer, Dean, Bouchier and 17-year-old Gaur prompted Lewis to evaluate England’s summer, which included an 8-all draw with Australia in the Ashes and a shock T20I series defeat to Sri Lanka as “exciting”.
“We’ve chosen different times to expose different players because it gives us really great opportunity to see how they do at different moments in games,” he said. “But also it’s more about the long-term planning towards making sure that we’re peaking at the right time for the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh and the 50-over World Cup in India the year after.
“So we’ve got to make sure that whilst we’re exposing our players to good, high-pressure cricket, some of them are getting rested as well.”
England players will enjoy an international break – with many likely to feature in the closing stages of the domestic 50-over competition – before heading to India at the end of the year for one Test and three T20Is.
Nat Sciver-BruntMaia BouchierCharlie DeanSri LankaEnglandEngland WomenSri Lanka WomenENG WMN vs SL WMNSri Lanka Women in England
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor, women’s cricket, at ESPNcricinfo