eather Knight believes England’s men and women can pull off a double Ashes “great escape” and revealed Sophia Dunkley will open the batting for the first time in tomorrow’s ODI at Bristol.
Australia were on the brink of retaining the Urn only seven days ago after winning both the one-off Test and First T20 to lead 6-0 in the multi-format series, but the home side have roared back with successive wins at the Oval and Lord’s to keep the series alive heading into the run of three ODIs.
England still have no margin for error, with Australia still just one win from keeping the Ashes, but Knight’s team are buoyed at having inflicted the serial world champions’ first back-to-back defeats in six years.
“In the past, we might have got a bit down and had the ‘here we go again’ thing against the Aussies but there’s a real belief in that room that we can match this cricket team,” Knight said.
“The pressure’s all on them, they’ve only got to win one game. If we can keep doing what we’re doing, keep ramping up that pressure a little bit, we’re still the underdogs in the context of the whole series. I feel like the pressure’s not massively on us.”
This summer’s men’s and Ashes series are running concurrently and Ben Stokes’s side are in a similar position, having narrowly lost the first to Tests before keeping their hopes of a memorable comeback alive with victory at Headingley last week.
“I think they have actually been quite parallel series, they obviously lost the first two games which were very close as well,” Knight added. There’s a real buzz around the country, which is awesome, that’s what Ashes series can do.
“We’re just trying to keep the momentum going and if the boys can keep doing well and we can keep doing well then maybe we can both have the great escape.”
England will wait until the toss to name their team, but speaking on Tuesday, Knight announced that Dunkley will go up the order to open in a surprise move, with the skipper taking her old place at No3.
Emma Lamb, who had opened in all-but one of England’s ODIs since the start of last summer, has been left out of this squad, but it was assumed that either Danni Wyatt or Alice Capsey would get the nod to partner Tammy Beaumont.
Wyatt has vast experience at the top of the order, while England were hoping to experiment with Capsey in the position during last year’s tour of the West Indies, only to have to shelve the plan after one match after the teenager suffered a broken collarbone in the field.
Dunkley, by contrast, has never opened in ODI cricket but averages 32 striking at above 90 since being promoted to No3 last year and has had success opening in the T20 side.
“She moved up to three last year and was brilliant, really successful, made a big impact,: Knight explained. “She’s a proper batter as well, she’s not just a pinch-hitter at the top. Sophia plays that role so brilliantly for us.
“She got a hundred here last year batting at No3 and naturally she scores quite quickly so she can score big runs as well. It’s for her to play her natural game, put the bad balls away and try to put pressure back on the bowler. Maybe not quite at the tempo she does in T20s but that’s the logic behind it.”
Tomorrow’s game could also see seamer Lauren Filer make her ODI debut after excelling on her England bow in last month’s Test at Trent Bridge.
The 22-year-old has a reputation as the fastest bowler in the country, topping speeds of 75mph in Nottingham and taking four wickets in the process.
“She’s still quite raw I think, you saw that in the Test match, but the way she played even surprised me, how she rose to the occasion and just made things happen,” Knight said. “That was exactly the role we gave to her, to run in, bowl fast and try to make an impact. That’s the role that, if she gets in the XI, we see her making in the ODIs.”