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‘West Indies have saved the day’ – England Women’s Danni Wyatt

England Women batter Danni Wyatt

DANNI Wyatt has hailed West Indies for “saving the day” as she prepares to pull on an England shirt for the first time since March.

England’s women faced the very real prospect of a cricket-free summer when South Africa and India pulled out of scheduled tours.

But West Indies stepped in and arrived in Derby this week ahead of a five-match T20 series which gets underway on September 21.

“I have been chomping at the bit to get out there and play,” said Wyatt, who made twin half-centuries for Southern Vipers as the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy got under way over last weekend.

“It was hard to hear about South Africa and India pulling out – the ECB have done everything they could to host women’s cricket this summer.

“West Indies have saved the day and we are really thankful to them for getting a team over here.”

The series will also benefit from a wider national audience, with the third match of the series on September 26 to be broadcast live on the BBC – the first time women’s cricket has been on free-to-air television since the 1993 World Cup.

“I’ve never played on the BBC so that will be amazing,” Wyatt said.

“My family can watch that one – they haven’t got Sky – so that will be nice!”

The upcoming series represents England’s first action since they had to sit powerless watching the rain wash out their T20 World Cup semi-final against India, who progressed to the final by virtue of having topped their group.

And while Wyatt admits global events of the past few months have put England’s Sydney heartache in perspective, the frustration remains evident.

“It was so disappointing to go out because of the rain,” she added.

“We started badly but picked ourselves up and we were starting to play our best cricket towards the back end. We really backed ourselves to perform in the semi-final.”

Having missed out on the opportunity to play in the showpiece final at a sold-out MCG, Wyatt and several teammates decided they couldn’t face watching it – but their plan to avoid the action had a sting in the tail.

“Katherine Brunt, Nat Sciver and I were on a boat in the middle of nowhere in the Whitsunday Islands – and there was an American couple talking about the final,” she said.

“This boat was full of people and yet here were this couple – probably the loudest Americans I’ve ever heard – going on about how England got knocked out because of the rain. What are the chances?!

“Katherine was livid and had her hands over her ears. They didn’t know who we were and we just stayed quiet.

“I checked the score and saw the Aussies had smashed it. I hated it, I just wanted to be playing in that game.”

Of course, no-one could have predicted at that stage it would be more than six months before England could start to scratch that itch by getting back on the field.

But Wyatt made the most of a rare chance to switch off from the game during lockdown, with tomato plants and TikTok replacing training and touring, however it didn’t take long for the cricket bug to return.

“After about six weeks I was out doing some drills against the bedsheet on the washing line,” Wyatt said.

“It made me really miss my teammates and everyone in cricket. We met up at Derby and had a socially distanced lunch, which was strange – I’m a big hugger so it was hard to keep my distance!

“It has been so good being back with the girls – that’s what I have missed the most.”

A decade on from her international debut, the 29-year-old earmarks 2017 as a turning point in what she describes as a “very weird career.”

Cameo roles in the middle order became match-winning performances as an opener, with T20 centuries against Australia and India that winter cementing her place at the top of the order in the shortest format.

Her next target is to do likewise in ODIs, a case done no harm at all by a sparkling 110 from 95 balls against Pakistan last December.

The postponement of the 2021 World Cup means a packed schedule could be on the way moving into 2022 and beyond – and Wyatt is determined to be at the heart of it.

“I want to win a t20 World Cup, as I’ve not won one yet, and I want to help retain the next World Cup,” she said.

“We have the Commonwealth Games [in 2022] too – there are all these big tournaments coming up that I want to contribute towards winning.

“But I don’t like to look too far ahead and this summer is the immediate focus. I feel physically and mentally ready to go – I can’t wait to get back out there.”

PAUL MARTIN

This article was brought to you by The Cricket Paper, the UK's best-selling cricket publication, on-sale every Sunday.
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