England’s concerning defeat in India echoes a recurring trend under the leadership of Jon Lewis.

An aggressive playing style with the bat might be causing harm to a team that missed out on a rare opportunity and had a humiliating performance in the Mumbai Test.

For years, Heather Knight has been advocating for five-day women’s Tests. Unfortunately, she has just overseen a three-day Test, which resulted in England’s first defeat in that timeframe in more than two decades.

Knight remained positive about England’s 347-run loss to India in the one-off Mumbai Test, emphasizing the team’s success in the white-ball leg of the tour. England emerged victorious in two out of three T20 matches that preceded the Test.

“We have a philosophical approach to losing the Test,” she said. “These were extreme conditions and it’s unlikely we will face them again unless we play another Test in India in the near future, which I’m uncertain about. Our main focus is the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh next year.”

It is true that England does not have another Test match until November 2024 (against South Africa), and there are no further Tests in India until at least mid-2025, according to the future tours program. However, dismissing a defeat by claiming the match was unimportant does not effectively advocate for more Test cricket, a format that Knight considers the pinnacle of her sport.

Regardless, being dismissed for 136 and 131 in the first and second innings respectively, and only batting for 63 overs in what was supposed to be a four-day game, was a humiliating display. The concern is that this is not an isolated incident and may be becoming a pattern for England under the coaching of Jon Lewis.

England now has a lengthy break before their next international assignment, a white-ball tour of New Zealand in March. Ensuring the recovery of Sophie Ecclestone from her recent shoulder injury will be a key concern.

Another concern is the form of Sophia Dunkley, who has been England’s preferred opener in T20 cricket but has only scored one international half-century since the beginning of 2023. Technical changes to her grip and attending Lewis’s batting boot camp in Mumbai have not yielded the desired results. England may have to make a difficult decision ahead of the 2024 World Cup, especially with Maia Bouchier eager to take on the opening role.

In any case, let’s hope Lewis engages in more honest conversations in the dressing room than Knight did with the media after the match. Dismissing your worst defeat in over 20 years is not the way to prepare for a World Cup.

Source: The Guardian

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