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25th March 2020

Science Heather Knight column: ‘I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since my England debut’

Science Heather Knight column: ‘I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since my England debut’

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science Heather Knight

ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020
Venues: Sydney, Perth, Canberra, Melbourne Dates: 21 February-8 March
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I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I made my England debut – it makes me feel old!

I made my debut with Danni Wyatt in an ODI in India at the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai.

There was probably one person there, and I think it was a parent! No-one really took notice of what was going on.

It is mad to think how far things have come since then.

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Bowlers back up Knight’s half-century as England ease to win

The first England innings

I was mid-way through university, studying biomedical science, when Sarah Taylor got injured and the next day, I was on the plane.

I turned up in India a little bit round around the edges, shall we say! I’d enjoyed my first term at uni and the game definitely wasn’t as professional as it is now.

We fielded first and the air pollution was really bad that day. Towards the back end of the innings, I was starting to wheeze and cough, and I was thinking “how will I open the batting?!” but luckily, it was fine.

I was looking at the scorecard the other day – I made 49, caught mid-off, trying to hit out, and I had a pretty average strike rate… I’ve had to work on that over the years!

Danni actually hit the winning runs in that match. Everyone thought she’d be a bit frantic but she was as cool as a cucumber under pressure.

It was so nice to share that moment with her – and here we are, 10 years later, still playing for England.

First hundred for England

Knight and Marsh led a superb rearguard action in the 2013 Ashes Test at Wormsley

My first hundred was the moment I felt like I belonged in an England shirt, and that I had arrived on the international stage.

It was during the Women’s Ashes against Australia at Wormsley in 2013, and I was playing in my second Test match.

We were 100-6 and struggling, after Australia had declared on 331-6 in their first innings. I came together with Laura Marsh and we, somehow, managed to save the Test.

It is the most mentally draining thing I have ever done. I’d never batted for that period of time, or concentrated for that long.

I was 80 not out overnight and I couldn’t sleep – this is a bit of a theme! – because I was playing the innings in my head all night. I was desperate to get that landmark.

I was at the crease for just under seven hours, I faced 338 balls and, at the end of it, I had my first ton as an England player.

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Highlights: Knight century leads England to victory over Thailand

First match as captain

There’s actually another milestone to my first match as captain – I took my first, and only, five-wicket haul for England!

We were at Leicester, playing Pakistan, and the match started a day later than it was meant to because of rain.

It’s still mad to think I’ve got a five-for. The fifth wicket was the classic off-spinner’s dismissal, caught at long-off by Kate Cross.

I was nervous in the build-up to the match, especially with the scrutiny around the team at that time, but I ended up being quite relaxed.

We got off to a ropey start in the chase, going two down quite quickly, so I was in early at four.

I’m always better when I’m out there, having an impact. You can relax and let your instincts take over.

It’s when you’re watching on and you have no control that I’m not great.

Best and worst moments

England beat India in the World Cup final at Lord’s in 2017

The biggest disappointment in my career was probably my first 50-over World Cup in 2013.

We were defending champions, I was in good form, and we just did not perform.

We stole some games but we couldn’t chase 148 against Australia, and that was a low moment.

I was gutted for a long time. I went back to university, feeling flat. My first World Cup, and we hadn’t made the final.

I started to think “am I ever going to win a World Cup?”

And then, four years later, on home turf, we did. And that’s why the World Cup victory in 2017 will always be so hard to top for me.

Singing the team song at Lord’s with the trophy, all the staff and players around us, after playing in front of a packed crowd on such a dramatic day…

That will stay with me for a long, long time.

Heather Knight was speaking to BBC Sport’s Amy Lofthouse.

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