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HomeSportsEngland captain Heather Knight wants side to adopt a ruthless streak during...

England captain Heather Knight wants side to adopt a ruthless streak during World Cup defence


England begin World Cup defence against Australia on Saturday – live on Sky Sports from 12.30am; Heather Knight’s side beaten 12-4 by Australia in Ashes after squandering victory chances; skipper says England will go “under the radar a little bit” in this year’s World Cup in New Zealand

Last Updated: 03/03/22 2:43pm


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England captain Heather Knight says her team are fully focused on defending their World Cup title in New Zealand.

England captain Heather Knight says her team are fully focused on defending their World Cup title in New Zealand.

England captain Heather Knight told Sky Sports she is looking for her side to show a ruthless streak and “killer instinct” that was lacking during their Ashes defeat as they aim to win successive 50-over World Cups.

England tumbled to a 12-4 loss to Australia in The Ashes earlier this year after failing to win any of the five completed matches in the multi-format series – but did have their chances.

Knight’s team were on course for victory in the standalone Test – requiring 45 more runs from 10 overs with seven wickets in hand – before collapsing and having to cling on for a gripping draw.

Then, in the first one-day international, England limited Australia to 205-9 from their 50 overs, only to then fade to 178 all out as the Southern Stars retained the Ashes.

Knight says her side were left mentally drained after failing to win the Ashes Test match against Australia.

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Knight says her side were left mentally drained after failing to win the Ashes Test match against Australia.

Knight says her side were left mentally drained after failing to win the Ashes Test match against Australia.

England went on to be well beaten in the final two ODIs, bowled out for 129 and 163, but have an immediate chance of revenge when they face Meg Lanning’s tournament favourites in the World Cup opener in Hamilton on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Cricket World Cup from 12.30am.

Knight told Sky Sports’ Nasser Hussain: “I don’t think we quite had that killer instinct to get over the line.

“We competed with Australia at times and, looking back, I think the Test match took a lot more out of the team, mentally more than physically, than we realised at the time.

“It was quite hard to come back from that and I don’t think the final two ODIs were a reflection of us as a side and how we wanted to approach our cricket. We wanted to go at Australia and be aggressive but we then went away from that a little bit.

“We have had some really good chats about intent and how we are going to punch out scores in the World Cup. It’s going to be an all-round effort from the batting unit.

Knight relishing Australia challenge

“I don’t think playing Australia first is a bad thing,” Knight added, ahead of a clash with an Australia side who have won 31 of their last 33 one-day internationals.

Australia celebrate with the trophy after winning the Women's Ashes

Australia celebrate with the trophy after winning the Women’s Ashes

“It gives us a chance to try and show what we didn’t quite show in The Ashes and have that killer instinct. I genuinely believe we have the skill to beat them in that game.

“Australia have earned the tag of favourites. They have been the outstanding team over the last five years. We will certainly go under the radar a little bit but there is a confidence we can be successful.

“To be successful and win World Cups are some of the best times of your life but we just have to focus on that first game and go game by game, which is what we did do well in 2017.

“We looked after each other and did not worry too much about other teams. That is the advice I will give everyone going into this tournament.

“In a World Cup you are preparing for a different team every time and sometimes that takes the pressure off a little bit as you don’t have the chance to overthink things or think an opposition player has one over on you. You get a chance for a fresh head.”

England are four-time World Cup champions, having triumphed on home soil in 1973, 1993 and 2017 and also in Australia in 2009.

Nasser Hussain and Mel Jones discuss England's chances of defending their Women's Cricket World Cup title in New Zealand.

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Nasser Hussain and Mel Jones discuss England’s chances of defending their Women’s Cricket World Cup title in New Zealand.

Nasser Hussain and Mel Jones discuss England’s chances of defending their Women’s Cricket World Cup title in New Zealand.

The victory five years ago at a sold-out Lord’s came after a dramatic turnaround, with first-time finalists India 191-3 in the 43rd over chasing 229, only to then lose seven wickets for 28 runs – Anya Shrubsole with five of them plus a run out – as England earned a nine-run success.

Knight: We are more established now

Knight added: “The first time I watched it back properly was during lockdown back home. I had the watchalong with Sky and felt the emotions again, the highs and lows, and it was really nice to reflect.

“But I am definitely someone who is, ‘What’s next? What’s the next tour? How do we get better as a side and keep moving forward?’

“We were a very young, fresh-looking side back in 2017. We didn’t have that experience. We hadn’t played some of the best teams in the world. We didn’t really know how we were going to go.

Former England player Lydia Greenway says that England need to make sure they get their batting right if they are to have a chance of retaining the 50-over World Cup title

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Former England player Lydia Greenway says that England need to make sure they get their batting right if they are to have a chance of retaining the 50-over World Cup title

Former England player Lydia Greenway says that England need to make sure they get their batting right if they are to have a chance of retaining the 50-over World Cup title

“Now we are pretty established as players and have added a little bit of youth as well, which is nice. There will be nerves, perhaps more so from the experienced players as you have the expectation and know what it’s about.

“For the younger players, I think it is about encouraging them to do what they have done so well, encouraging them to embrace their first World Cups. I think it’s important we don’t change things just because it is a huge tournament.

“Covid has taught us a lot about sometimes having to smile through situations, accepting it is not going to be the ideal scenario every time you go somewhere. Hopefully we can use that to our advantage.”

Watch every game from the Women’s Cricket World Cup live on Sky Sports. Coverage of the tournament opener – hosts New Zealand vs West Indies in Tauranga – gets under way on Friday at 12.30am on Sky Sports Cricket World Cup. England vs Australia, in Hamilton, is live from 12.30am on Saturday on the same channel





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