MAKE no mistake – Lisa Keightley expects England to reach the final of the Women’s World T20 in Australia, writes Hannah Clarke.
Keightley, the first female coach of the England women’s team, knows the land Down Under like the back of her hand as former Australia coach.
The Aussie admits her home nation start as favourites on February 21, but claims her knowledge of conditions will play to England’s advantage.
“I am planning to be in the final and I know the players are as well” she said.
“Matthew Mott (Australia head coach) won’t be letting them rest on their laurels. He knows competition at World Cups, it is all about playing well at the right times so I am sure he will do what he needs to do to make sure the team is ready.
“But I wouldn’t have gone for this role if I didn’t think we had a chance to win.
“We have a lot of options and covered most bases. We have a lot of variety and I look forward to seeing us play attacking, positive cricket which I think you need to do against big teams.”
Keightley has tweaked her squad for seam-friendly conditions with all-rounder Georgia Elwiss coming in for left-arm spinner Kirstie Gordon in the only change from the 3-0 T20 series win over Pakistan in December.
It was Elwiss’ fine record in the Women’s Big Bash League for Melbourne Stars that swayed it in the end.
“A couple of spinners were unlucky not to make it but we had more in the squad than we need for Australia,” said Keightley.
“Georgia covers two skill sets with the ball and with the bat. In my mind her, Nat Sciver and Katherine Brunt give us that balance as the all-rounders.
“Georgia has played in Australia and done really well out there. She was an input into our team to give us options and a player who has experience out in Australia.
“She has variations that will come in handy out there."
England have made the final in four of six editions of the short-form showpiece but will need to overhaul the hosts, who beat them soundly in last summer’s Ashes.
An upcoming tri-series against Australia and India will form the first opportunity for Keightley to run the rule over her new charges and she’s relishing the chance to test their mettle against top opposition.
“Every tournament you play is important, but we need to make sure we see what we have and what the best teams are,” said Keightley.
“You want to win as many games as you can but also a bit of planning and thinking that if someone gets injured, we have players that have had the opportunity to build confidence if they have to step up.
“I want us to be positive, I want us to play with confidence and freedom because the players know their game and their strengths and under pressure, I hope they would use them” she said.
Squad: Heather Knight (cap, Berkshire), Tammy Beaumont (Kent), Katherine Brunt (Yorkshire), Kate Cross (Lancashire), Freya Davies (Sussex), Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire), Georgia Elwiss (Sussex), Sarah Glenn (Worcestershire), Amy Jones (wicketkeeper, Warwickshire), Nat Sciver (Surrey), Anya Shrubsole (Berkshire), Lauren Winfield (Yorkshire), Fran Wilson (Kent), Danni Wyatt (Sussex), Mady Villiers (Essex)