Nat Sciver: England wary of 'fearless' India as they approach Test learning curve

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England vice-captain hopes home conditions will help overcome visitors’ mix of experience and bold youth

Nat Sciver, England’s vice-captain, says the team will be wary of “fearless” elements within the India camp when they meet in a Test match for the first time in seven years from Wednesday in Bristol.

Sciver is one of six women in the current England squad who played in their last Test encounter with India at Wormsley, which the tourists won by six wickets. India have also named six players from that match in their current squad along with talented 17-year-old Shafali Verma.

Richa Ghosh, another 17-year-old who was recently added to India’s list of centrally contracted players, is not part of India’s combined Test and ODI group but is in the T20I squad for the multi-format series in which points are awarded across the standalone Test, three ODIs and three T20Is to decide the overall series winner.

“They’re an ever-growing side,” Sciver said. “There’s always a new, young talent on the team who isn’t afraid to go out there and show what they’ve got. They seem to be more fearless than I’ve seen before.

“Couple that with a lot of experience in their team – with Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami – they can be a very difficult side to beat. Hopefully in England, in our conditions, we can hone our skills and make sure that we’re doing the right things.

“Last time we played India, we weren’t very good in that Test match and we didn’t play to our potential so hopefully we can do better this time.”

India have only played one Test since their last meeting, an innings victory at home to South Africa in November 2014, while England have played three, all against Australia for the Ashes.

“They don’t come around very often so it does bring something different to training and when you’re looking at tactics and stats that have been before you can’t really go on any of those because they’re so few and far between, women’s Tests,” Sciver said.

“So it is a learning curve every time we start to prepare and turn our minds to it. We’ve had a practice game and we’ve had a few centre-wicket practices where we’re just seeing what works, seeing what doesn’t work.”

Sciver was awarded the vice-captaincy on a permanent basis when England named their Test squad last week, having stood in for the injured Anya Shrubsole on the winter tour of New Zealand. She has already had a taste of the top job after acting as captain when England completed a 3-0 sweep of their T20 series against New Zealand while Heather Knight had a hamstring injury.

“I thought that Heather might hold on for that game that I actually had to captain so that was very nerve-racking,” Sciver said. “But it’s an absolute honour to be asked and something that I’ve had aspirations to do, to become more of a leader in the team, so I’m really looking forward to it.

“Naturally, I lead by action, not so much with my voice… helping girls along and I guess leading by example a little bit. That’s my style and hopefully I can grow from there really because if Heather does go down I’m going to need to lead in a different way. It’s a learning opportunity and something that I’m welcoming and really excited about.”

Allrounder Sciver was Player of the Match, scoring a half-century and taking 3 for 26 as England took an unassailable 2-0 lead in their ODI series in New Zealand in February. Her form at the start of the English summer has been more modest, with 26 runs and two wickets from three rounds of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy before entering England’s bio-secure training bubble.

“I feel good, I’d like a few more runs, being selfish,” Sciver said. “It was good to play some games. The practice games that we had were a bit rain-affected and a bit disjointed so it was good to play the last couple of weekends with my domestic side, the Northern Diamonds. It’s coming out nice with the ball but I’d like a few more runs, hopefully that will come.”

India’s most recent form is less impressive than England’s after they were defeated at home by South Africa 4-1 in their ODI series and 2-1 in the T20Is in March.

In the multi-format series, four points will be up for grabs in the Test with two points for a draw and one for no result while each of the three ODIs and three T20Is will be worth two points for a win.

As principal partner of England cricket, cinch is proud to help drive women’s cricket forward, literally. The online used car retailer showed its support for the team and their coaches by providing them with team cars to make the road to success that little bit more comfortable. See cinch.co.uk for more

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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