England vice-captain Heather Knight believes Middlesex cricketer Fran Wilson can star on the international stage this summer if called upon.
It has been all change for England over the last week, with Charlotte Edwards – the only person to captain England in more than 200 internationals – retiring from international cricket, while wicketkeeper-batter Sarah Taylor is taking a break from the sport due to personal reasons.
Taylor is England’s third highest one-day international run-scorer and second only to Charlotte Edwards in T20 games, while in October last year she became the first woman to play in Australian first-grade cricket.
This is by far from ideal preparation for England head coach Mark Robinson as he readies his troops for the upcoming One-Day International Series against Pakistan that kicks off on June 20.
But Knight, who is frontrunner to captain England following Edwards’ retirement, believes Wilson could be the one fill the void left by others.
Wilson was part of the Ashes squad last summer and earned a central contract in December, only to be overlooked for the February tour to South Africa and the World Cup.
But having impressed with England Women’s Academy in Sri Lanka over the winter, Knight is convinced 24-year-old Wilson is ready to make the step up.
“Lottie’s [Edward’s] and Sarah’s records speak for themselves and there will be spaces in the line-up and the order will look very different but there is some real talent in our squad at the moment,” said Knight.
“It hasn’t necessarily come to fruition on the international stage just yet but this will hopefully give them the chance to do that.
“Amy Jones is a big one with a hell of a lot of potential and it will be a big year for her, and Fran as well.
“Fran has been in and around the squad and I’ve known her since we were very young, we used to play football against each other.
“I think she has matured a lot over the last few years and I’m sure that, given the chance, she will take it.”
New head coach Robinson is certainly not afraid to make bold decisions, with the former Sussex head coach instigating Edwards’ retirement as he bids to give youth a chance.
And Knight is adamant that the future of women’s cricket in England is in safe hands with Wilson and co.
“The new set-up, the coaching staff have come in and been brilliant and it shows the potential of where we could go as a team over the next year or so,” Knight added.
“It’s exciting and I guess with the recent news of Charlotte retiring and Sarah potentially having a bit of a break, will give a lot of our younger players – particularly the batters – an opportunity to stand up and take that chance to perform on the international stage.
“For me it’s massively exciting and for the rest of the team they’re really excited by what’s to come. It will be slightly different, and a challenge, but as professional sportspeople that is what excites us and what we work towards.”
Heather Knight was speaking at a Royal London event, showcasing their support of the Women’s game and the upcoming One-Day International Series against Pakistan. For more information visit www.royallondoncricket.com