Women’s Test cricket is back! Heather Knight’s England side host Mithali Raj’s India in a four-day Test match at the County Ground in Bristol.
With all eyes set to be on the World Test Championship (WTC) final between India and New Zealand, the England and Indian women’s side are all set to feature in the first Women’s Test match in almost two years. In fact, it’s been more than six and a half years since a non-Ashes Test match was played in women’s cricket. Only 11 Test matches have been played since the start of the calendar year 2007.
Such has been the frequency of Test cricket that the Indian Women’s team last donned the whites way back in 2014. They had played a couple of Test matches that year, one in England in August and the other in November at home against South Africa. In fact, these two Test matches were the only ones that India have played in the last 15 years. Between 2006 and 2021, the only year where the Indian women’s side played Test cricket was in 2014.
Chart: Women’s Test Cricket Record
In the last three to four years, none of Indian women’s cricketers have even played a first-class game. Meanwhile, the England women’s cricketers have featured in a lot more red-ball games and Test cricket as well. They play one Test match every Ashes and since India last played Test cricket, England women played three. One stat that stands out is that England Women have featured in almost 68% of the Test matches (95) that have been played in the history of women’s cricket. India Women have played a mere 36.
England have a solid and an experienced side. Heather Knight, Amy Jones, Tammy Beaumont and Nat Sciver have a wealth of experience in the batting department. They form the crux of the batting line-up. Meanwhile, England boast of a strong bowling attack as well with the likes of Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole leading the pace attack while Sophie Ecclestone will be the premier spinner. They have some first-timers in Emily Arlott, Mady Villiers and Sophia Dunkley.
However, despite the inexperience, India Women’s unit have a talented squad as well. The last time India featured in a Test match in England, skipper Mithali Raj handed out as many as eight debut caps. But this time, that is unlikely to be the case. India’s batting wears a pretty settled look. The veteran Mithali Raj will have the likes of Smriti Mandhana, Punam Raut and Harmanpreet Kaur for company. The X-factor Shafali Verma could well make her debut alongside Jemimah Rodrigues. Jhulan Goswami will lead the bowling attack and Shikha Pandey will most likely be the second seamer. Deepti Sharma, Poonam Yadav and one of Ekta Bisht or Radha Yadav could form the spin attack.
Note, India Women’s team are on a three-match winning streak in Test cricket. They have won each of their last two Test matches in England as well.
Thus, despite the lack of red-ball cricket and not playing first-class cricket in the last few years, Mithali Raj and co have quite a bit of firepower in their ranks. They will pose a stiff challenge to the Heather Knight-led England side as the latter aim for their 21st win in Test cricket which will make the team with most Test wins in women’s cricket history. Meanwhile, England Women haven’t remained winless in their last four Test matches – losing two and drawing two.
England Women: Heather Knight (c), Nat Sciver, Emily Arlott, Tammy Beaumont, Katherine Brunt, Kate Cross, Freya Davies, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Georgia Elwiss, Tash Farrant, Sarah Glenn, Amy Jones, Anya Shrubsole, Mady Villiers, Fran Wilson, Lauren Winfield-Hill
India Women: Mithali Raj (c), Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Punam Raut, Priya Punia, Deepti Sharma, Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Sneh Rana, Taniya Bhatia, Indrani Roy, Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey, Pooja Vastrakar, Arundhati Reddy, Poonam Yadav, Ekta Bisht, Radha Yadav