New Zealand vs England: T20 series offers chance to stake World Cup claims after WPL finale

Heather Knight’s England meet Suzie Bates and New Zealand in a five-match T20 series beginning on Monday (Getty Images)
Heather Knight’s England meet Suzie Bates and New Zealand in a five-match T20 series beginning on Monday (Getty Images)

Heather Knight says she has no regrets at missing out on Women’s Premier League (WPL) glory, as England prepare to start their T20 series in New Zealand on Monday night.

England will be without a number of senior players for the first three games of the five-match series, with the likes of Sophie Ecclestone and Nat Sciver-Brunt among those given permission to prioritise lucrative stints in the WPL, which finished with Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) beating Delhi Capitals in Sunday’s final.

Knight had been due to play for RCB, but pulled out of her stint in order to lead England in New Zealand in a series that forms a key part of their preparation for this year’s T20 World Cup in Bangladesh.

"I was always going to come, that was quite an easy decision for me,” Knight said. “As captain, I wanted to be here around the build-up. The ideal would have been to leave the WPL a bit early but that wasn’t an option because of the rules around replacement players.

“I was getting a few messages of the celebrations through from some of the girls who were there, from Kate [Cross] and some of the overseas girls as well.

“I guess I could have been there but I’m not thinking about that. I’m super happy to be here and the right thing for me and for the team was for me to be here.”

Alice Capsey was the only current England player involved in Sunday’s WPL final, but last month the tourists opted to name separate squads for the first and second parts of the New Zealand series in a bid to provide clarity over which players would be available and when.

It means that Knight’s team for the first three matches will have a more inexperienced feel, and while the skipper feels her established players will be reaping the benefits of playing high-class franchise cricket in India, she is equally keen to assess her side’s depth ahead of the autumn’s World Cup in Bangladesh.

“I think it’s really important it’s on an individual level,” she added. “The right thing for me was to be here but I also think we’re going to get a really good benefit as an England team from those girls playing in subcontinental conditions in big games, like Alice Capsey playing in a big final.

“In an ideal world you’d have windows with separate stuff and a little bit of a gap in between to make it realistic. There is a window but it’s one day and that’s not realistic to fly across the world and play. We’ve got a huge opportunity for some of our younger players to play and have a role.

“It’s been really good, nice to have that freshness and have look at the talent that is just outside the squad. And also some of the girls that have been around the squad for a while but to give them more of a major role. I’m really excited to see how they go.”