Updated: Wednesday, 15th July 2020 @ 4:12pm

'Gritty' Rochdale girl Knight won't let injury deter her, says ex-England cricket captain Edwards

'Gritty' Rochdale girl Knight won't let injury deter her, says ex-England cricket captain Edwards

| By Katie Falkingham

Former England captain Charlotte Edwards insists Heather Knight’s injury will do little to stall preparations for the upcoming ICC Women’s World Cup, insisting her successor is the right person to lead the side all the way to the title this summer.

Rochdale’s Knight, who took over the captaincy from Edwards last June, has been ruled out for six weeks with a stress fracture to the foot, but is expected to be back in time for England’s opening World Cup fixture against India on June 24.

Expectations will be high on the 26-year-old as she leads the national side into her first major tournament as skipper, following in the footsteps of her predecessor who lifted the trophy eight years ago.

Victory at Lord’s come July 23 would mark England’s fourth World Cup triumph since the inaugural tournament in 1973, and their third on home soil - an unbeaten streak they will be eager not to spoil.

But Edwards is confident Knight will not bow under such pressure, and will be more than ready to prove herself on the highest stage of all.

“There is plenty of time for her to be fit. It’s not ideal preparation, don’t get me wrong, but I think in terms of timing, at least they have spotted it now and it hasn’t got any worse,” said Edwards, speaking on the Nissan Trophy Tour. 

“I think she’ll be more than ready come that first warm-up game on June 19. 

“I think Heather will be relieved that she’s got six weeks to get herself fit. It will give the rest of the group the opportunity to captain the team, but it’s not ideal that she may be a bit off in terms of match-play, and playing as a group before the tournament.

“This is a huge tournament for Heather, given that she’s only been captain for a year. I think that’s a really good thing though, because she’s done well in the job so far.

“She’s played in one World Cup so far so she has that experience. It’s going to be hard dealing with the pressure of a home World Cup - there are more expectations and you have to deal with that, but she’s pretty tough.

“If there’s anyone that can deal with it, it’s her. They’ve got a good squad who have played a lot together, and she’ll be pulling on a lot of the experienced players within that side like [Katherine] Brunt, [Anya] Shrubsole and so on to obviously help her along the way.”

Edwards saw her 20-year international career come to a shock conclusion in May 2016 when coach Mark Robinson made the decision to take the squad in a alternate direction, despite having led the team to four Ashes series titles during her distinguished captaincy.

The 37-year-old has soon moved on though, and insists she could think of no-one better than successor Knight to step into her shoes.

“She was absolutely the right choice, she showed real leadership potential when she first came into the group and she’s always been a definite captain for me,” she said.

“It was no surprise when she took over the role. She’s gritty, she’ll lead from the front on and off the field, and she’s very professional in how she goes about her training.

“She’s pretty determined as well, and she will want to win this home World Cup. I know they’ve played down their chances and so on but you can’t tell me those 15 don’t believe they can’t win.

“They’ve got a huge opportunity, it’s just dealing with all the outside pressures as well. I think if they do win, it will be an absolutely huge achievement.”

The ICC Champions Trophy (1-18 June) and ICC Women’s World Cup (24 June – 23 July) will both see the best eight ODI teams in the world compete for glory in England & Wales this summer. Tickets available at icc-cricket.com/tickets