England captain Heather Knight targeting double success in big summer for women's cricket

As captain of Western Storm in the Kia Super League, and England in the World Cup of course, Knight's wish-list is pretty obvious - to win both competitions

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The Independent Online

Heather Knight is prepared for the biggest summer of her career to date as the profile of women's cricket comes of age in this country.

As captain of Western Storm in the Kia Super League, and England in the World Cup of course, Knight's wish-list is pretty obvious - to win both competitions.

She is no forlorn hope either to help chalk up a famous double as first England bid to realise their potential in June and July, and then the Storm seek to go one better than in last year's inaugural Super League when they lost in the final to former national captain Charlotte Edwards' Southern Vipers.

By the time the Super League begins on August 10, with Knight up against Edwards again in the tournament's first televised fixture at the Ageas Bowl, she will already know whether England have managed to upset the odds to become world-beaters.

The Storm came up short in last year's Chelmsford final but have retained world number one Twenty20 batsman Stafanie Taylor and New Zealand wicketkeeper Rachel Priest.

“Last year was disappointing, not to make it across the line,” said Knight. “It's a brilliant tournament, very short and sharp with only five group games, so you have to hit form at the right time.”

There will be no room for a slip-up then in Southampton, where part of the onus falling on Knight will be to help her team deal with the occasion.

“That first game of the tournament, a repeat of last year's final, is also going to be the first-ever Kia Super League match live on television,” she added. “A lot of the county players on both teams won't have played on TV before... we obviously need to start well.”

Knight and the Storm came up short last year (Getty)

She is no stranger herself to added expectation, with England but also Hobart Hurricanes in Australia's Women's Big Bash League.

Knight believes the Super League, with the same array of global talent in tow, can soon begin to catch up the template in Australia - where unlike here, a men's franchise Twenty20 tournament has led the way.

“The Big Bash has piggy-backed the men's competition a little bit, and the structures were in place already,” she said. “But last year the signs were brilliant... better attended than the Big Bash in its first edition. A lot more games on Sky and the radio should help to grow that.

“The grounds that have the best atmospheres, and best to play at, are the ones that are slightly smaller... Taunton and Bristol are great places. The standard of pitches is massively important as well, so that they allow players to show off their skills.”

Knight knows England's women have potential (Getty)

As for England's campaign, Knight has no doubt about her team's long-term potential, even if there is a chance this World Cup may come a little too soon for the squad still progressing since Mark Robinson took over as coach 18 months ago and she became captain last summer.

“We've been together as coach and captain for the last year, and the team has grown massively in that time,” she said. “We're still quite a young team - particularly in the batting line-up, we're quite inexperienced. We won't be going into the tournament as favourites, but we can definitely really challenge for the trophy.

“It'll be a great test of where we are at the moment. We have the potential to go to number one in the world and stay there for a long time. Whether this World Cup is the starting point for that, I don't know.”

Knight has been hobbling around for the past week since England's medics detected a stress fracture in her left foot, but she is “really confident” about being fit again in time. It is less certain that wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor will be available as she continues her comeback after a year out with stress-related problems.

At her best, Taylor walks into any team in the world - but England will sensibly let her set her own pace. “It is about one step at a time for Sarah,” said Knight. “It would be unfair to heap expectation on her at this stage. We'd love to have her in the team. But if she does not make it, we have some brilliant players queuing up.”

Heather Knight was speaking at an event in Hove to celebrate the on-sale date for tickets for the Kia Super League. Tickets are available to buy from today via ecb.co.uk/tickets/ksl