England captain Heather Knight believes her side’s “tough” preparation will stand them in good stead ahead of their limited-overs tour of New Zealand.
Lisa Keightley’s team contest a three-match one-day international series with the White Ferns, before three T20s, but come into the series seriously undercooked.
The coronavirus pandemic has meant England haven’t played an ODI since December 2019, before Keightley officially took charge, and have only their disappointing T20 World Cup experience and five-match T20 series with West Indies in September to fall back on in recent times.
To make matters worse, England slipped to defeat against a New Zealand XI in their second and final warm-up match, having previously won their opening tour game.
“I think our preparation hasn’t been ideal,” Knight said.
“I guess the preparation we’ve had before New Zealand has been tough, because we’ve obviously come out of an English winter without being able to train properly and then straight into a couple of warm-up games.
“But in my opinion these two games have been really good preparation and they’ll really sharpen us up for that first ODI when we need to be hitting our straps against New Zealand.”
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) February 20, 2021
The series serves as ideal preparation for the postponed Women’s Cricket World Cup, which takes place in New Zealand from March 4 next year, where England will be bidding to defend the title they so famously claimed at Lord’s nearly four years ago.
New Zealand have lost nine consecutive 50-over contests stretching back to February 2019 coming into this series, and will also be without their all-time leading ODI run scorer Suzie Bates due to a shoulder injury.
But England, who are themselves missing bowler Anya Shrubsole due to a knee injury, have already been shown an example of why they should not underestimate their opponents in their most recent warm-up game.
Despite half-centuries from both Danni Wyatt and Knight, England fell to a 30-run defeat even as they used 12 batters.
The damage was done in the first innings, where Natalie Dodd smashed 91 from 104 balls as the New Zealand XI racked up a total of 316-5 - more than any side has ever made against England in a one-day international.
But, despite the “humbling”, Knight believes the defeat could be the perfect push for England to get into gear and take the series by the scruff of the neck.
She added: “We were a little bit off the pace in a number of areas. We did some really good stuff but getting back into the groove of 50-over cricket you have to do those things for a lot longer, and more consistently.
“As bowlers you need to find that consistency to build pressure and as batters you need to go on and score those big scores.
“Credit to the New Zealand Development XI. They gave us a bit of a humbling there to be honest, but that’s really good preparation for us.
“It identifies exactly what we have to do and how we’re going to have to work hard across the next few practice sessions here and then at Christchurch ahead of the first ODI.”