Heather Knight says the suspension of Ollie Robinson from international cricket over a series of historical tweets has been a “learning opportunity” for her England side before they face India next week.
“What’s gone on for the last week or so is a very clear reminder of the role models that we are, and the responsibility that we have as England cricketers to have a positive impact, and represent the sport, and what we want the sport to be, in a very good light,” the captain said.
“It shouldn’t really need saying that cricket should be a game for everyone and should be inclusive and welcoming, and everyone should feel like they’re able to take part. If there’s an 18-year-old boy now that realises that sort of opinion isn’t acceptable, then I think that can only be a positive.”
Knight hoped the addition of Sophia Dunkley to the squad of centrally contracted England players would help send a positive message. Dunkley is the first non-white female player to hold a central contract since they were introduced in May 2014, and only the second black woman – after Ebony Rainford-Brent – to play for England.
“I’m sure Sophia doesn’t see herself as a role model, but she massively is,” Knight said. “That’s really important. We talk a lot in women’s sport about how you can’t be what you can’t see – that’s similar in Dunks’ situation. I’m absolutely chuffed for her: she’s a great girl, she works really hard and I hope she maximises this opportunity.”
The England squad for next week’s women’s Test against India at Bristol includes the uncapped 23-year-old seamer Emily Arlott.
Central Sparks’ Arlott has been included on the back of a dramatic quadruple wicket maiden in the third round of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy. To make the final XI, she faces stiff competition: Anya Shrubsole, who missed out on England’s winter tour to New Zealand due to a knee injury, is now back to full fitness, while Freya Davies, Tash Farrant and Kate Cross, who shared the third seamer spot between them over the winter, have all enjoyed good starts to the season.
Arlott’s inclusion would indicate a more attacking strategy by England in a match that will be the first non-Ashes Test since 2014 and a rare opportunity for Knight and her team to don the whites. The last two women’s Tests, en 2017 y 2019, both ended in draws.
“Our main job as England cricketers is to win but our job is also to entertain,” Knight said. “We always want to put on a show, especially as we haven’t had fans in for so long. India are a very strong side and they’re going to be hard to beat, so hopefully that will be entertaining to watch.”