Quartet to miss start of England T20 series against New Zealand due to WPL

Nat Sciver-Brunt, Sophie Ecclestone, Danni Wyatt and Alice Capsey will miss England’s first three T20s against New Zealand next month due to their Women’s Premier League commitments.

Confirmation last week that the WPL final will be held on March 17 in Delhi left a logistical headache for England, who begin their New Zealand tour two days later with the first of five T20s in Dunedin.

While captain Heather Knight and seamer Lauren Bell backed out of WPL stints, England gave their blessing to Sciver-Brunt, Ecclestone, Wyatt and Capsey playing a full part in the tournament in India.

Heather Knight withdrew from a Women's Premier League stint last week (Bradley Collyer/PA)
Heather Knight withdrew from a Women’s Premier League stint last week (Bradley Collyer/PA)

The quartet will return for the fourth and fifth T20s, with England head coach Jon Lewis initially going to the WPL to lead UP Warriorz before heading to New Zealand a week out from the opening match.

“We explored every option available to us to make sure all our players were available during the New Zealand series but that didn’t quite work out as we would have liked,” said Lewis.

“Yes, there are things that other boards could have done but they’re things that are totally out of our control. We’ve had to react to the situation as best we can.

“Heather and Lauren really wanted to prioritise playing those first three games in New Zealand and the rest of the players felt – and we backed both ways – playing under pressure in the WPL gives them a really good opportunity to grow.

“I think, moving forward, all the boards around the world will create a window for the WPL similar to what happens in the men’s game (with the Indian Premier League).”

WPL rules forbid mid-tournament replacements and England’s players were informed staying on for the entire campaign would mean having to miss T20s against New Zealand on March 19, 22 and 24.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of the absences of several regulars for the start of the trip is Tammy Beaumont, who has an opportunity to press her claims ahead of the T20 World Cup in the autumn.

Beaumont has been stranded on 99 T20 caps since January 2022, conspicuously overlooked despite a resurgence in form last year in which she starred in both the multi-format Ashes and then The Hundred.

While Wyatt and Sophia Dunkley are a settled opening combination in T20s for England, Beaumont, a Test and ODI regular, can muddy the waters a few months before the World Cup in Bangladesh.

“Tammy’s played some really good cricket,” said Lewis, whose side also play three ODIs against the White Ferns in April. “We asked her to go away and improve in certain areas.

Tammy Beaumont starred in the multi-format Women's Ashes and The Hundred last year (Tim Goode/PA)
Tammy Beaumont starred in the multi-format Women’s Ashes and The Hundred last year (Tim Goode/PA)

“She went away and did that and she’s pushing her case to open the batting. I think that’s probably the only position she can bat. I hope that she’ll get the opportunity that she probably deserves.”

Uncapped batting all-rounder Hollie Armitage is in England’s squad for the first three T20s as is slow left-armer Linsey Smith, who is in line for her first international appearance in four years.

Mahika Gaur played two T20s for England last summer but the 17-year-old left-arm seamer has been omitted as she is studying for her A-levels.

England’s T20 squad: H Knight (captain), H Armitage (first three T20s), T Beaumont, L Bell, M Bouchier, A Capsey (last two T20s) C Dean, S Dunkley, S Ecclestone (last two T20s) L Filer, D Gibson, S Glenn, B Heath, A Jones, N Sciver-Brunt (last two T20s), L Smith (first three T20s), D Wyatt (last two T20s).

England ODI squad: H Knight (captain), T Beaumont, L Bell, M Bouchier, A Capsey, K Cross, C Dean, S Dunkley, S Ecclestone, L Filer, D Gibson, S Glenn, B Heath, A Jones, N Sciver-Brunt, D Wyatt.