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Hip issue sidelines Heather Knight for England’s Commonwealth Games opener

Injury keeps Heather Knight on the sidelines (Simon Marper/PA)
Injury keeps Heather Knight on the sidelines (Simon Marper/PA)

England captain Heather Knight has been ruled out of her side’s opener at the Commonwealth Games on Saturday evening because of a lingering hip injury.

Knight had an injection in a bid to soothe some irritation in her hip joint and feature at Edgbaston this weekend, having missed the final two Twenty20s of the multi-format series against South Africa.

While Knight is optimistic she will be fit enough to take charge against the Proteas in their second Group B match on Tuesday, Nat Sciver will deputise as England skipper for the Sri Lanka clash.

“I haven’t managed to be fit for (Saturday), it’s taken a little bit longer to settle than I would have liked but the goal now is Tuesday and trying to be ready for that,” Knight told the PA news agency.

Heather Knight hopes to be fit against South Africa on Tuesday (Mike Egerton/PA)
Heather Knight hopes to be fit for the game against South Africa on Tuesday (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It’s one of those wait and see things, we’re not too sure how it’s going to progress, but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could play a role that’s going to contribute in the games.

“It’s frustrating but the thing with these injuries is you have to be patient and give them the time to heal properly and not rush back too quickly. They’re in capable hands now and Nat will do a great job.”

England completed a comprehensive 14-2 points win over South Africa earlier this week, with Sciver at the helm for the last couple of T20s and she is relishing leading the side again.

“With captaining, it always takes a game or two to get into it. Hopefully we’ll be able to settle in quite quickly,” Sciver told PA.

“With it being a bit more of a spectacle at the Commonwealth Games, it might take us a little bit longer and there might be a few more nerves but we’re excited to get going again.”

Nat Sciver will step in as England captain against Sri Lanka (David Davies/PA)
Nat Sciver will step in as England captain against Sri Lanka (David Davies/PA)

Cricket is back at the Games after 24 years and while a men’s 50-over tournament was held in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, this event in Birmingham which started on Friday is Twenty20 and exclusively for women.

With England in the final of Euro 2022 this Sunday and the nation’s cricket, netball and hockey teams among those gunning for gold in the midlands, women’s sport is at the forefront of attention.

“There’s a real focus on it which there wouldn’t have been in the past which is progress in itself,” said Knight, who hopes to watch England versus Germany alongside her team-mates in the athletes’ village.

“The Lionesses have done so much already, it’s been awesome and I’ve been inspired watching them play. It’s been amazing to see their journey and watch how they’ve brushed off teams.

“Every summer it feels like it’s the summer of women’s sport and it goes to a new level every time, it keeps surprising me and everyone. If we can play our part to keep driving it forward and keep people talking about women’s sport, it’s going to be great.”

Australia, as holders of both limited-overs World Cups, are overwhelming favourites to top the podium after the final next Sunday in a tournament which features almost all of the leading countries.

Knight recognises as much and therefore feels a gold medal here would sit alongside leading England to a seminal 2017 50-over World Cup win on home soil as the greatest achievements of her career.

“If we’re going to be successful it’s going to be on a par, certainly, with winning a World Cup,” Knight added. “To do it at a Commonwealth Games, it would reach so many more people. That adds a bit of pressure but adds excitement and opportunity.

“The last few years, it’s no secret we’ve come second to Australia a lot and we’ve challenged the girls after the World Cup and Ashes this winter to do things a little bit differently.

“Everything that we’ve tried to do is to try and beat Australia, to not come second at world events. I think this will be a really good test of that.”