Lotus365 Lotus365 News Eng W vs SL W – Mahika Gaur hits her straps as England’s next generation step up

Eng W vs SL W – Mahika Gaur hits her straps as England’s next generation step up

Eng W vs SL W – Mahika Gaur hits her straps as England’s next generation step up post thumbnail image

Never mind the persistent drizzle and autumnal chill, it was all about teenage kicks for England at the start of their T20I series with Sri Lanka in Hove. Alice Capsey ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/alice-capsey-1187120), who turned 19 a few weeks ago, produced the star turn with her second international fifty, while Freya Kemp ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/freya-kemp-1195947), 18, twinkled in her batting cameo – but perhaps the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for Mahika Gaur ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/mahika-gaur-1171433), the 17-year-old debutant who claimed her first England wicket with her final ball of the night.

Capsey has been an England player for just over a year – it feels like she has been around much longer, having shot to prominence as a 16-year-old during the inaugural edition of the Hundred – but she took on the role of senior pro in an experimental batting order that saw Maia Bouchier open for the first time in her international career and Kemp, playing as a specialist batter as she continues her recovery from a back stress fracture, at No. 4.

This series, which sees England missing the likes of Sophia Dunkley, Nat Sciver-Brunt and Sophie Ecclestone either for rest or through injury, had been billed by captain Heather Knight as a chance for the youngsters to push their case. And while it was the familiar face of Danni Wyatt who set the tone with the bat, before victory was closed out by Kate Cross – the experienced seamer playing her first T20I in almost four years – much of what took place in between justified the faith shown by Knight and head coach, Jon Lewis.

“It’s a young squad but a really exciting squad,” Capsey said. “You look at Mahika coming in and making a difference and you’ve got players like Bess Heath and Issy Wong on the sidelines who are extraordinary cricketers who can change the game just like that so yeah, it’s nice to obviously be in the XI and but you’ve always got people coming up behind you and putting pressure on you which is which is great for the women’s game and English cricket.

“Obviously we’re missing a few big names out of our squad, just getting rested. It’s nice for players who have performed in regional cricket to come and get their opportunity to be a part of the England environment to see what it’s about and I guess be exposed to international cricket so that when they do get their opportunity and, if in the future they become a permanent part of the side, then they know what it’s like to be a part of the squad and they’re already integrated, which is brilliant. They’ve fitted in so well with our squad so it’s been really nice to have them about.”

For Gaur, who is actually an old salt by some measures, having made her international debut for UAE at the age of 12, this threatened to be a tricky introduction. With the toss delayed by an hour due to the weather, she was presented with her cap by Cross and then had to wait to get involved with the action after Sri Lanka chose to bowl in a shortened, 17-over game.

England’s aggression meant the visitors were staring down the barrel of a record run-chase when Gaur took the new ball. With rain in the air again, her first delivery swung down the leg side for wides but she quickly hit her straps, twice appealing for lbw decisions and prompting a review for caught behind down the leg side. Then, one ball into her second over, the players went off – and a subsequent rejig of the requirements meant when she walked back out 45 minutes later, Sri Lanka were suddenly in the game needing 45 off 17 with all ten wickets standing.

The assault duly came, as Chamari Athapaththu ^(https://lotus365.today/goto/https://www.espncricinfo.com/cricketers/chamari-athapaththu-318853) launched the third ball back after the resumption for six. But Gaur put her 6ft 3in frame to good use with a well-directed short ball and then found the edge of the Sri Lanka captain’s bat to cap her maiden England appearance (and 20th T20I overall) with a wicket.

“I think her previous ball, her bouncer was superb,” Capsey said. “I think that really set up the wicket and yeah, obviously her first England wicket, you can’t go past that. It’s an incredible achievement and no one can take that away from her.

“We’ve all got along with her really well. She’s fitted in perfectly, she’s just a really good human. She’s just someone who doesn’t take too much fuss. She gets on with it, she works really hard and I’m not surprised how well she went out there and bowled today. It was probably a different role to what she was expecting, having to go to her death overs pretty quickly but she took that role on really well and it shows her character.

“We all just told her to really go out there and express herself, she doesn’t need to change, she’s been bowling so well in the regional cricket and in the Hundred cricket on the platform as well. I think the messaging was pretty much ‘go out there and do what you do, we’re all backing you’. Whenever you step on to that cricket pitch, you’ve got everyone behind you and just enjoy it.”

Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

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