Lack of red-ball opportunities only adds to intrigue of picking side to face India
“I’m delighted the girls have gone so well,” Knight said. “That’s what we want those girls to do, to go in and win games of cricket for their clubs and put in really strong performances and selection’s going to be quite tough.
“Hugely excited to play in the Test match, it’s such a rare event in our calendar and one that’s huge for us, we love playing red-ball cricket so it’s great to see the girls performing well and hopefully we can continue those performances against India.”
After just two rounds of matches, on Saturday and bank holiday Monday, several players have remarked that the new domestic women’s structure – where 41 players have been awarded full-time contracts in addition to the centrally contracted England players – is already paying dividends in terms of professionalism and development.
“The standards have gone up massively,” Knight said. “I’m just pleased to see the girls go well, some of the domestic players really pushing as well, putting their hands up playing against the best players in England and the players that they want to take the spots off.
“You want to just create as much competition as you can and I think we’re really starting to do that. We’re getting a bigger pool of players that you can pick from.”
While the domestic 50-over competition is obviously a different format, it’s virtually all that selectors have to go on when choosing the Test side, so rare are red-ball opportunities – that and previous Test experience.
“To be honest, it’s quite tough because we don’t play any domestic red-ball cricket or anything like that,” Knight said. “You’re going on one-day form more than anything. There’s not many stats to go so it’s almost a little bit of feel who you think has the temperament and the technique and the skill to be able to perform in red-ball cricket and a little bit of form goes into it as well.
“It’s not easy but we’ll sit down after the round of the Rachel Heyhoe Flint on Saturday and come together… I’m sure we’ll put together a squad that’s going to really challenge and really be strong.
“People that have had success in red-ball cricket before can obviously take from that and take it into more games, but it’s two years ago, it’s tough in that things change so much. You take it into account a little bit but probably more recent form and how batters are going and who is most likely to have the best success in the game.”
The last time England Women played a Test was the drawn Ashes fixture at Taunton nearly two years ago but India have not played one since defeating South Africa in November 2014.
Jones, Knight, Beaumont, Brunt and Ecclestone all played in the Ashes Test, along with the likes of Nat Sciver, Anya Shrubsole and Georgia Elwiss, who missed the only internationals of England’s home summer last year – a five-match T20 series with West Indies – because of a back injury.
While she is untried in the format, Sarah Glenn, the 21-year-old leg-spinner, is likely to feature, having truly announced her international arrival with a successful series against West Indies after an encouraging T20 World Cup.
India are due to arrive in England on Thursday, entering into quarantine in Southampton before heading to Bristol for the Test starting on June 16.
On Tuesday, Knight’s attention was turned briefly to a fourth format during an event at The Kia Oval to mark 50 days until the Hundred begins with a women’s match between Oval Invicibles and Manchester Originals on July 21 following last year’s postponement. Knight’s London Spirit side begin their campaign two days later against Birmingham Phoenix at Edgbaston.
“The fact that we’ve got a full summer of cricket to look forward to amazing,” Knight said. “The Hundred is going to be a big part of our summer, which is great.
“It feels like it’s been a long old build-up, and it feels like the build-up has been even bigger because it’s been delayed a year. Looking forward to getting out there.”
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo