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Knight calls on batters to replicate 'outstanding' second day

England captain praises centurion Beaumont's "concentration and skill level"

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
23-Jun-2023
Tammy Beaumont and Heather Knight put on a century stand, England vs Australia, Only Test, Women's Ashes, Nottingham, 2nd day, June 23, 2023

Tammy Beaumont and Heather Knight put on a century stand  •  Getty Images

Heather Knight has called on her batters to "go again tomorrow" and earn the right to be dominant on a run-laden surface in the Women's Ashes Test at Trent Bridge, after closing the second day on a promising 218 for 2, thanks to an outstanding century from Tammy Beaumont.
Although England still trail Australia's first-innings 473 by a hefty 255 runs, Beaumont's first Test century, coupled with 57 from Knight herself and a typically free-flowing 41 not out from Nat Sciver-Brunt allowed England to ratchet up the pressure on the visitors, with the promise of many more runs to come if - as Knight put it at the close - they can be "clinical" upon the resumption.
"I'm really proud of Tammy," Knight told Sky Sports, after Beaumont had emulated her own achievement as the only other women's cricketer to score an international century across all three formats. "Honestly, it's hard work being out in the field for so long. But I think the concentration and the skill level that she showed was outstanding."
After the early loss of Emma Lamb for 10, Beaumont and Knight shared in an important second-wicket stand of 115, and it required one of the balls of the day from Ashleigh Gardner to separate them, as Knight was drawn forward and undone by turn and extra bounce, for Alyssa Healy to complete the catch behind the stumps.
Prior to that, however, the pair had progressed smoothly against a largely off-colour Australian seam attack, and it was only the twin spin of Gardner and Alana King that was able to apply much pressure on a surface that Knight admitted was drier than she would have ideally wished for.
"The Aussies tried a few different things, they went cross-seam and banged it into the wicket but there's not too many demons in it," she said. "Then a couple started to spin so we just talked about how we're going to play the different types of types of spin … Ash trying to bowl a more attacking line outside of off, and then Kingy gets a little bit of drift and towards the end started to get a little bit of turn.
"It was just about getting in and trying to play every ball on its merits," she added. "If you bowled straight and targetted the pads with straight fields, it was actually quite hard to score when the ball went soft. We just talked about our strengths really, trying to be really decisive on the balls that we want to attack. And it's about earning the right when the ball stops swinging to then be able to put pressure back on, like Nat did there at the end.
"The pitch has probably been a little bit dry, we wanted a little bit more grass and carry," Knight added. "It's been a bit disappointing that the nicks haven't really carried, but I think one of the reasons for bowling first was I don't think it's going to deteriorate too much. I think it's still one where you can go big as a batter, and get really good value if you're really clinical on how you want to score."
That opportunity awaits for Beaumont and Sciver-Brunt on day three, as they resume a stand that is already worth 67 in 12.4 overs. However, as Knight herself noted, Australia had been in a very similar situation at 202 for 2 in their own first innings, before a collapse of 4 for 36 undermined their dominance, with Sophie Ecclestone's maiden Test five-for proving instrumental in that fightback.
"We've got to go again tomorrow," Knight said. "Today was outstanding for us with the bat, but we have to go again. They were obviously in quite a similar position with the score two-down and then lost a few wickets in that middle period.
"So we've got really turn up tomorrow, try and boss that middle period and, if we get two batters in, as you saw at the end there with us dominating the spinners, it can be a bit easier to score. The middle order will be quite aggressive and look to score, but it's about managing the different situations and obviously trying to get to where they are."
Ecclestone may have been England's most successful bowler in the first innings, but England's trump card for the second could yet be their debutant, Lauren Filer, whose rare 75mph-plus speed proved unsettling for Australia's bowlers, albeit she only claimed two wickets.
Knight acknowledged that, on a pitch that was pretty dead for the bowlers on both teams, Filer had risen to the occasion of her maiden England appearance with more composure than she could have hoped for.
"I'm so impressed," she said. "It's a bit of an unknown to be honest, potentially quite a risky call because she can be quite raw, but she's bowled with brilliant control as well, which has been one of the most impressive things. We brought her in to try and make an impact and take wickets and every time she came into bowl the crowd got behind her.
"It felt like something was going to happen, so it's quite exciting. She was one of the only bowlers where it felt like the nicks were going to carry, which is quite hard on a docile pitch. She certainly ran in all day and it's about keeping the plan really simple for a new player as well. She's risen to the occasion brilliantly. She's gone even better than I thought she would actually, and she's really made an impact for us, which is great."
As with any captain and a new toy, however, Knight admitted one of her main challenges was not to get over-excited with Filer's potential, and to keep her to short bursts of four or five overs.
"It's really hard, she'll have probably bowled three or four, and I'll think she's looking threatening here, but her effectiveness is having short spells and being able to come back and bowl fast again. So it almost feels like, when I want to give her one more, that's probably enough. I want to use her as an impact bowler that can make things happen."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket