England in New Zealand: Heather Knight wants side to put on a show as fans return

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Danni Wyatt hits shot for England
England’s last international in front of spectators came at the T20 World Cup last March
Date: 23 February Time: 01:00 GMT Venue: Hagley Oval, Christchurch

England hope to “put on a show” on their tour of New Zealand – their first cricket in front of fans for almost a year, says captain Heather Knight.

The first of three 50-over matches begins on Tuesday (01:00 GMT), with three Twenty20s to follow next week.

Spectators are allowed at all matches, making them the first games England have played in front of fans since before the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re so excited to play international cricket again,” Knight said.

“We’re very lucky to be out here and we’re very grateful that it’s been put on and all the effort that’s gone into it.

“I think there might be a bit of a crowd in at Hagley Oval, which is a beautiful ground to play cricket at.

“Just being able to play international cricket in front of people is super exciting.

“It’s hugely important for the women’s game as well to get cricket back on consistently. Hopefully we can put on a show.”

England have played two warm-up matches – winning one and losing one – since they arrived in New Zealand and emerged from a 14-day quarantine.

Their only internationals since the pandemic began came in a home T20 series against West Indies in September, which they won 5-0.

The three T20s against the White Ferns will be played as double headers alongside men’s T20s between New Zealand and Australia at the same venues.

Journey to World Cup defence begins

Knight’s side should have been defending their 50-over World Cup title next month in New Zealand but the tournament was delayed until 2022 by the pandemic.

Tuesday’s ODI will be England’s first in the format since they faced Pakistan in December 2019.

They are without vice-captain Anya Shrubsole and fellow seamer Katie George because of injuries but left-armer Tash Farrant has been recalled for the first time since she lost her central contract. New Zealand’s former captain and record ODI run-scorer Suzie Bates is out with a shoulder injury.

“New Zealand are a strong side so I think it’s going to be a really good test for us,” Knight said.

“Our preparation has been a little bit disjointed but as a team I feel like we’re really ready to play ODI cricket now, I feel like the last couple of days training have shown some real intensity and some real skill about where we need to be so that’s been great.

“We’ve got a year before the World Cup here in 2022, so that year is going to be key in terms of preparation and showing us where we need to be, how we want to play our ODI cricket.

“We’ve had a really good look, myself and the coaching staff, about where we are as a team in terms of ODI cricket and where we need to get better, where we’re really good as well and how we’re going to be successful in the next couple of years.

“So I’m really excited to start that journey really, it’s been a long time coming.”

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