Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Heather Knight column: 'Super League set to be hugely exciting new competition'

Heather KnightHaving led England to six successive limited-overs wins over Pakistan after taking over as captain, Heather Knight now turns her focus to leading Western Storm in the inaugural Super League, which begins on Saturday, July 30.
Looking back at the past few weeks with England, it's fair to say things couldn't have gone much better for us as a team. Records have been broken, hundreds scored, five-fers taken and we've had some serious fun doing it along the way.
The dressing room is a great place to be at the moment, with everyone enjoying each other's success. A lot of the team has grown up playing together (I remember first playing against Anya Shrubsole when I was 12 years old) and it's great to see everyone performing in the Three Lions, and knowing the journey is only just beginning.
A tight dressing room is always a good thing, but I think Jenny Gunn went above and beyond here…t's been a very enjoyable few weeks and I've loved leading this team.
Naturally, as captain, there are now a lot more demands on my time, and it's something I've had to get used to very quickly. Apologies to any journalists I offended in the post-victory news conference at Fortress Chelmsford - when asked what the worst thing about being captain was, I responded: "Being sat here talking to you and not celebrating with the team." Sorry!
You'll also be pleased to hear that, following the mishap in the first ODI in Leicester, our team manager made sure I had a coin for every toss - it appears it's quite a lucky one, with five tosses won out of six.
To finish off the international summer with three wins in the Twenty20 internationals to follow the 3-0 one-day international series victory, and to dominate in the way we did, was hugely satisfying. We know we'll have tougher tests down the line as a team, starting with a trip to the West Indies in October, but what a base to start from and a marker to put down.Kia Super League - opening fixtures

Sat, 30 July - Yorkshire Diamonds v Loughborough Lightning (Headingley)
Sun, 31 July - Southern Vipers v Surrey Stars (Ageas Bowl)
Sun, 31 July - Western Storm v Lancashire Thunder (Taunton)
(matches in bold live on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra)

'If anyone turns up in a Stormtrooper outfit I'll be very impressed'

After a week or so off, catching up with friends and family and watching a bit of the men's Test at Lord's, it's now straight into prep for the inaugural Super League, which starts this weekend. I'm captaining the Western Storm - the combined University of Exeter, Somerset and Gloucestershire team based in the West Country, where I grew up.
To get things under way in style, we headed up to Manchester last Thursday evening for a series of launch events. Unfortunately, along with my new Western Storm overseas team-mate Rachel Priest, I was two hours late due to some horrendous traffic all the way from the south-west.
After eventually arriving at an effortlessly cool bar in Manchester's Northern Quarter for the launch party, we all enjoyed a fantastic evening mingling with journalists, sponsors, players from each of the teams and ECB staff. We were also treated to a special live performance from singer Laura Wright of her new single 'Heroes', which is the song she has written and recorded for the England women's team.
It was an early start the next day at MediaCity in Salford for a mass game of Kwik Cricket on the plaza, with lots of media support from across the BBC's breakfast shows. The early start was obviously too much for Yorkshire Diamonds skipper Lauren Winfield, who seized an opportunity to swap running around for a motorised mode of movement:http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/onesport/cps/800/cpsprodpb/15614/production/_90527578_loz.jpg
Thanks to all the BBC members of staff who got involved on their way into work, especially to the guy that stacked it going for a catch: it kept us very amused at 7am.
The BBC breakfast presenters also came down for a go live on air, which was pretty cool, and Kate Cross somehow found herself with a stray microphone and, thinking it wasn't on, decided to belt out a rendition of 'Hello' by Adele. It turns out the microphone was on and Crossy made her singing debut live on BBC breakfast primetime. Sorry, viewers!
It was a fun way to launch what's set to be a hugely exciting new competition and it's great to see everything coming together after a lot of hard work behind the scenes at the ECB and by all of the hosts.
The six teams are looking really strong with three or four England players per team and three overseas players, including the best players in the world. I'll be lining up with Anya Shrubsole and Fran Wilson, alongside Rachel Priest (NZ), Lizelle Lee (SA) and West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor.
Obviously the teams are pretty much coming together from scratch, so it's great to have the chance to help shape and bring together a brand new team.
It's also a brilliant opportunity for some of the younger players coming through to show what they can do against the best players in the world, and the competition will really bridge that gap between the England set-up and county cricket in this country.
We are playing our home games at Gloucester CCC and Somerset CCC and, having had some amazing support in Bristol and Taunton in the past for England, we would love to see the people of the West Country supporting the Western Storm at our home games.
And if anyone turns up in a Stormtrooper outfit, I'll be very impressed and be sure to thank you personally (hint hint).
See you there!
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