KENT has so far seemed like the land of milk and honey for Fran Wilson, so if life stays this sweet, then she’s right where she needs to be to keep her Ashes ambitions simmering nicely.
The England middle-order ace joined the Women’s County Championship’s most successful team following Middlesex’s relegation to Division Two last summer and Kent opened up their 2019 campaign with back-to-back wins.
They beat Nottinghamshire by 49 runs in Canterbury last Sunday before Wilson hit 83 in a seven-wicket triumph over Warwickshire on Women’s County Cricket Day on Bank Holiday Monday.
Like so many of her England contemporaries, the 27-year-old, a World Cup-winner in 2017, is striving for selection for June’s series against the West Indies and July’s Women’s Ashes series – and putting together a portfolio of fine knocks in Kent colours will be the best way to make sure Wilson stands out from the crowd.
“The main reason I joined Kent was that I wanted to play Division One cricket. The level of the top league is really, really good and I wanted to play as much as I can,” she said.
“And with not being a permanent fixture in the England side last summer, it’s important that my 50-over cricket is played at the highest level.
“I had a great four or five years at Middlesex and I owe them a lot – with my England career, definitely – and I think that a change will be good for my game, with the chance to play against the top players every week.
“With England, we’re almost in a similar position to the men where we’ve the luxury of a lot of batters that could come in and do a good job for the team.
“I don’t think it’s any different for anyone in the squad. Everyone’s got to post scores early in the season to stake a claim but I guess you can’t think about that too much.
“You can have it as an end goal and really be strict on yourself and looking at the process, and how you’re going to go about getting those runs – that’s the important thing.”
The Women’s County Championship is something of a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affair, with Kent playing just five more matches, starting with Sunday’s clash against Surrey at Reed’s School in Cobham.
But with such a bumper summer of international cricket on the horizon, Wilson expects that scarce game-time to be ferocious, particularly with her side to come up against so many others including players looking to put themselves in the England spotlight.
“It is a short campaign – just seven games – but at the same time, it is a good competition as well, especially if all of the England players are available, which it looks like they will be,” she said.
“It’s noticeable that the quality of the games has gone up over the last few years, so it’s really good preparation for the international summer but also a good competition in its own right.
“Every week, you look at the fixture list and the team you’re up against are strong, and there are England players in most teams, so there’s no easy game.
“On Monday, we kept our cool under pressure as well, especially when Amy Jones was hitting us to all parts at Beckenham.
“Lancashire won both games at the weekend and they’ve still got Sophie Ecclestone to come back in, so it’s a good competition and there’ll definitely be some tightly-fought contests.
“It’s really, really nice to go to county cricket and be batting at three every week, and just knowing you’re going to have that opportunity to score runs.”
DAN BARNES / Photo: Getty Images