Danielle Hazell embraces the spin rivalry as England women's standards rise

Danielle Hazell claimed the wicket of Punam Raut Getty Images

In 1999, Shane Warne was dropped. A brilliant series between Australia and West Indies came down to the fourth and final rubber and, with the great legspinner underdone after shoulder surgery months earlier, the decision was taken by Australia's captain Steve Waugh to leave him out of his side. Chances are, you know that story from Warne himself - on reality television in 2016, he bitterly detailed how much he continued to fume over it. To him, his relationship with Waugh was irreparably damaged from that moment - even though Australia won the match.

Compare that to England spinner Danielle Hazell. She gets dropped all the time. Maybe that's too strong a word but, given the depth of slow-bowling options in Heather Knight's side, the offspinner regularly finds herself wearing the orange vest. Don't expect to see her getting stuck into anybody about it though. By contrast, there is an acceptance from Hazell that having a quality quartet of spin options is a handy problem for the national side to have.

"There is a respect from all of us that there are going to be times when two or three of us won't play but, if we push each other, it is only going to be better for all of us," she told ESPNcricinfo. "We know that we compete against each other. You want to be in the team but when they are, you want the best for them. It is healthy the more you embrace that. It makes you improve constantly."

Most recently, it was Alex Hartley, England's World Cup-winning left-arm spinner, who felt the rough end of this particular pineapple. Stunned to be omitted from the squad for England's fixtures against South Africa and then New Zealand, Hartley immediately got behind the left-armer who replaced her, teenager (and fellow Lancastrian) Sophie Ecclestone.

In the case of Hazell, it is Laura Marsh - the side's 31-year-old offie - with whom she has been trading places with for the better part of a decade. Indeed, it was Marsh who stood atop the dais at Lord's last year as a World Cup champion, not Hazell, after a switch was made between the two mid-tournament. It is a reality the pair talk freely about, as friends as well as colleagues and competitors.

"When it comes down to that final XI it's about the best spinner, and we have that respect for each other, having been around for a long time wanting each other to do well," says Hazell who also missed the 2016 World T20 when tearing a calf on the cusp of the competition. It sharpens the focus as to why she is more desperate than ever to be in the box seat in 2018 when it matters most. "In a big competition is where you are remembered. I'm getting a bit older now so there probably isn't that many of these big ones coming around."

It will help Hazell's case that she is known for doing her best work overseas, having stood out as England's best bowler on their recent tour of India and stood in as the side's captain in Sri Lanka in 2016. As will the fact that Mark Robinson, the side's coach, wants strong characters and leaders in the dressing room. With scores in the women's 20-over game experiencing a burst of pronounced inflation as professionalism takes hold, the World T20 in November in the West Indies promises to follow suit with six of the highest seven totals coming this year alone. Only the robust will succeed.

"The game has massively moved on. It is exciting. With the more exposure, the game is becoming a lot bigger and the more people who see it are realising that. Especially when you see a game where a team gets 250 in 20 overs! [as England did last Wednesday]. As a bowler you can think 'my god, where is the game going?' but it is exciting to be involved in. You have to move with the game. But you need to keep enjoying that and the challenges there are. There are going to be days you go all over the field but it is just about getting back on the horse remembering that more boundaries means more wickets."

At the age of 31, and with 136 internationals to her name after debuting in 2009, Hazell acknowledges she has a fair few miles on the clock but doesn't want to be thought of as near the end. As Phil Tufnell observed of Nathan Lyon when he turned 30, this is the age where finger spinners finally are at peace with their craft. "Like goalkeepers in football," Tufnell added. Hazell agrees, taking inspiration from Graeme Swann as well, who didn't feature as a Test bowler until he was 29. "You don't learn the game completely until then."

When it is over, the north-east will be where Hazell can be found trying to develop the next England mainstay from the region. "It is my home and I would love after I retire one day someone else to come along," she says. "If I saw somebody else come from Durham and play for England, I'd be pretty proud." That comes later. For now, Hazell has a trophy to win. But if she doesn't and Marsh is there instead, don't expect her to be bitter about it.