Photo Credit: ICC
England captain Heather Knight admitted her side are fighting for their life in the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 after starting their title defence with two narrow defeats.
The 2017 champions lost by seven runs to the West Indies after opening their campaign in New Zealand with an agonising 12-run defeat to Australia.
A sloppy display in the field allowed the West Indies to post 225 for six and despite losing wickets in clusters, a stand of 61 between ninth-wicket pair Sophie Ecclestone and Kate Cross looked to be steering England to an unlikely victory before two wickets in four balls brought them crashing back down to Earth.
England now face an uphill task if they are to secure a semi-final spot by finishing in the top four and cannot afford any further slip-ups with South Africa up next on Monday, but Knight was quick to remind their doubters that they are far from out of the tournament.
She said: “I think we need to have a knockout mindset now – that next game is crucial to our World Cup hopes against South Africa.
“So we have to bring that mindset of needing to win every game and that simplifies things.
“And hopefully that’ll sharpen people up, sharpen minds to what we need to do, because at the moment we’re fighting for life in this tournament.
“There’s a lot of experience in this group. We’ve lost games before and we know that we can’t dwell on defeat too much. Particularly close defeats.
“They can be sometimes a little bit tricky to park but we’ve got to make sure we park them, take what we need to and go into the next game and give it everything.”
After dropping five catches, missing a run-out chance and conceding 23 wides, Knight was at loss to explain a floundering fielding display that ultimately cost them the game despite still holding the West Indies to what was a below-par total on a good wicket in Dunedin.
She added: “It wasn’t [like] us. I think there’s a lot of things that are in our control that we could do a lot better.
“Not too much concern, a bit of frustration and I think when it’s close you look at how many things you could do differently, and we could have saved runs taking catches in the field.
“We know the standards we set as a fielding group, and we have to be better.”
Anisa Mohammed clinched the West Indies’ first-ever World Cup win over England, deflecting a difficult caught-and-bowled chance off Ecclestone onto the stumps at the non-striker’s end to run out Cross and then yorking Anya Shrubsole to spark the celebrations.
Stafanie Taylor’s side have now won two nail-biters in succession, after edging hosts New Zealand by three runs in their first encounter, and Mohammed revealed those victories have given the team the belief they can lift the trophy come the end of the tournament.
The off-spinner said: “To win the two games against the top teams in this tournament is definitely a motivation for us.
“And it gives us that confidence knowing that if we can defeat the top teams then going forward, once we play our best game, we can go all the way in this tournament.
“I know a lot of teams are counting us as underdogs, we have not been playing a lot of good ODI cricket lately, but we have nothing to lose.
“So it’s just a matter of us coming out here, having fun and keep believing in each other and keep believing that we can win matches and I’m sure that we have quite a lot of teams to surprise in this tournament.”