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The Women's Sports Alliance


Heather Knight - England captain, and future cricket Olympian?

Follow Heather Knight on Insta - @heatherknight55

Think of England women’s cricket team and one name will almost certainly immediately enter your mind – Heather Knight. While the national team is far from a one-woman show, the talismanic all-rounder guided England to World Cup success in 2017 and has become synonymous with the team’s rise over the last decade.

She of course has played the game for much longer, first bowling a ball in anger at the age of six – and going on to make her senior international debut in early 2010 – aged 19.

Since appearing in her maiden Test series the following year Knight has gone on to amass 149 caps in the longest form of the game and stepped up to the captaincy role in 2016, following the retirement of Charlotte Edwards.

Here she tells the Women’s Sports Alliance (WSA) about her journey and hopes for the future of the women’s game domestically and globally.

Q – What have been the most significant transformation you’ve witnessed in women’s cricket since you first took up the sport?

“I grew up in deepest darkest Devon playing cricket in men’s team and to be honest, growing up I knew hardly anything about women’s cricket,” she tells the WSA.

“I didn’t know there was a team until I was 12-13 so it’s definitely very different.

“I made my England debut when in 2010 in India in front of about three fans and some of these girls now are making their debuts in front of packed out, full houses and playing domestic cricket in front of a lot of people in the Hundred.

“The professionalism has changed remarkably and the perceptions have changed so much since I’ve been involved.

“The amount of people who know how the team are getting on, follow it and how people perceive it to be normal as a woman in cricket compared to when I grew up and always felt like the odd one out and someone that was very different to the guys who I played with.”

Q – After having such polar opposite experiences in terms of support for the sport, do you almost have to pinch yourself when you’re performing in front of packed out venues so often now?

“I think you take it for granted sometimes (now) because you’re focusing on the game and when you have the big crowds it’s for a major final and you have the nerves and want to get into the game and focus on that.

“I’ve made a conscious effort over the last few years though to try and soak it up a little bit more and I think in World Cup finals or other big games where the atmosphere is brilliant you need to take it in.”

Q – You’re clearly very proud to captain and lead out the England team into international events, but how different is that challenge compared to when you’re just ‘one of the team’ under someone else’s leadership? “Yeah, you have a lot of decisions to make, scenarios and tactics going through your mind about what might happen in the game, when you’re captain.

“So, certainly that’s the primary focus when playing, so it’s hard to step back sometimes, but I try while doing the best job I can as a leader.”

Q – You weren’t able to play in the Commonwealths due to injury, but how big an opportunity for women’s cricket was that first-ever appearance?

“It was a huge opportunity for cricket to reach people who’ve maybe never watched it before.

“I certain remember as a kid switching on the Commonwealths and watching the athletics or the swimming and others that I wouldn’t follow outside of the Commonwealth or Olympic Games, so it’s a chance for us to draw people in and show how brilliant we think the sport.

“Hopefully it has drawn those fans in and gets them interested to play or be involved in the future. It’s really nice to be involve in the Commonwealths, it’s multi-sport and global and as cricketers we’re not involved on that scale every before, so a great opportunity.”

Q – As we mentioned the women’s game has come so far in the last decade, but what do you see as key for future growth? After the Commonwealths, would the Olympics be a next logical step potentially?

“I think there’s pro’s and con's with the Olympics,” she says.

“The calendar is massively packed and obviously it’s great that we’re playing the amount of cricket that we are, but it is a very hectic schedule and would something have to give for the Olympics to be on the radar?

“It certainly would, but it would be a massive platform and stage if it was to happen in the future and for women’s cricket and also the men’s game as well. I think they should both be in there.

“I think that T20 really is the format to push the women’s game forward commercially and for spectators, but I think that one of the great things about cricket is it has so many different formats.

“If T20 isn’t someone’s cup of tea it might be a Test match, but that’s a really positive for cricket that hopefully means it appeals to more people.

“It would potentially be after we retired, but I would love to see cricket played at the Olympics.”


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