England captain Heather Knight has described ICC Chair Greg Barclay’s comments questioning the future of women’s Test cricket as “dangerous news”.
Barclay said in an interview earlier this month that he doesn’t see women’s Test cricket “evolving at any particular rate” or that it’s “a part of the landscape that’s even moving forward to any real extent”.
But Knight said ahead of Monday’s LV= Insurance Women’s Test against South Africa in Taunton: “I was saddened by those comments. As a player I want to play Test cricket, it’s considered the pinnacle by a lot of people.
“It’s marketed as the pinnacle and considered the best and most challenging form of the game, which I definitely agree with.
“It’s probably not great news from the ICC or Greg’s comments that women shouldn’t play it.
“I think it’s a pretty dangerous message to send out that women shouldn’t play what is seen as the pinnacle of the game. I’m sure it wasn’t that well thought out.
“We should not limit what women’s cricket should and can be.
“With the right conditions and the right players, as you saw in Canberra (when England played Australia last winter), the women’s cricket test match can be really exciting and a great spectacle.”
England’s last friendly against Australia in January ended in a thrilling draw that went all the way to the end of the game.
But only England, Australia and India have played women’s tests in the last seven years, with South Africa’s last game coming in 2014.
The lonely four-day test is the start of a multi-format streak that will be followed by three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 games.
Knight said: “I definitely think there is scope for Test cricket.
“As part of a multi-format series, it worked really well. It keeps women’s Test match cricket alive and as players we learn our craft a little.
“We do not play multi-format cricket domestically. You kind of learn on the job, especially the players who come in, as white ball cricket skills have to be a little different.
“T20 cricket in women’s football has grown and developed commercially. But there is room for white ball cricket and the purest form of the game.”
It has been 14 years since England last played a friendly without Anya Shrubsole or Katherine Brunt in attack.
Shrubsole ended her international career in April and Brunt, her longtime new ball partner, ended the longest format this month to focus on the white ball game.
Naked sears Emily Arlott and Lauren Bell are part of a 13-man roster that includes other fresh faces in fast and medium bowler Freya Davies, all-rounder Alice Davidson-Richards and opening batter Emma Lamb.
“They’re definitely going to leave some holes in the team,” Knight said of Shrubsole and Brunt’s double loss.
“But what a chance for some of the young players. We have some top young talent coming through, it’s a chance for them to make their mark on Test cricket and show they deserve a chance to take the mantle.
“I feel like the professional system is more embedded now and I’ve seen the depth and skill level improve.
“The way we approached that game in Canberra was exactly how I want us to approach next week’s game.
“As batters and bowlers, I want us to advance the game at every opportunity.”