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England missing Sciver-Brunt for T20I opener with Pakistan

Freya Kemp set to bat at No. 5 at Edgbaston in allrounder's absence

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
Nat Sciver-Brunt during a practice session, Edgbaston May 10, 2024

Nat Sciver-Brunt training at Edgbaston  •  PA Images via Getty Images

Nat Sciver-Brunt will miss England's opening T20I against Pakistan at Edgbaston on Saturday after undergoing a "minor medical procedure", her captain Heather Knight has revealed on the eve of the match.
Knight said the absence of allrounder Sciver-Brunt opened the door for left-hander Freya Kemp to bat at No. 5. Allrounder Kemp is in England's T20I squad purely as a batter as she continues her return from a back problem.
"Nat Sciver-Brunt is unavailable tomorrow," Knight told reporters on Friday. "She'll be available for the next game. She's had a minor medical procedure, so this game tomorrow comes a little bit too soon for her.
"We obviously played those three T20s in New Zealand without her as well and without a few other players, so that gave us an opportunity to find out about a few people and add to our depth a little bit. There's some good young allrounders coming through. Dani Gibson has been impressive, particularly with the ball at the back end. Freya Kemp is obviously a massive clean ball-striker and a left-hander which we don't have a lot of in England, and when she's back bowling as well, she'll become a real asset.
"There's some really good talent coming through. It is just about guiding those younger players and keeping them on the right track to fulfil the potential that they have."
Maia Bouchier enjoyed a breakthrough tour of New Zealand in March, making the most of her opportunities at the top of the order amid the late arrivals of Danni Wyatt and Sciver-Brunt from the WPL as England won the T20I series 4-1.
That tour was an important stepping stone in England's build-up to the T20 Women's World Cup in Bangladesh in October, as is this visit by Pakistan and the upcoming home series against New Zealand in June and July.
"In New Zealand I felt like our T20 game evolved a little bit," Knight said. "We played on pitches that were slightly more tricky in the powerplay, slightly bigger boundaries, and we had to play a slightly different game. That was really good for us. It probably added a few more tools in our bag and made us be a bit smarter with how we attacked, and how we put pressure back on the bowlers. There was a lot more hitting into pockets, hitting twos, it was harder to hit sixes out there.
"I feel like that's evolved us a lot as a side and evolved our method a little bit. That's going to be the same in Bangladesh, it's conditions that we haven't played a huge amount of cricket in as a squad, so it's about having as many skills in our cricket toolbox to try and call upon when we need them, and building settled positions. As a bowling unit as well, having different people to bowl in different positions and giving opportunities as and when there is the chance to do that."
Meanwhile Pakistan are coming off the back of a disappointing tour by West Indies, who won their T20I series 4-1 and swept the ODIs 3-0. But Knight said there would be no complacency in her side as a result.
"They've had some good results as well in New Zealand, they won that series away, which is a really good result for them," Knight said of a Pakistan side captained by Nida Dar since last year, taking over from Bismah Maroof who recently retired from international cricket.
"They've also got a new captain and a few retirements in their team and that quite often I think brings energy and reinvigorates the team, so we're certainly not underestimating them at all. They've obviously got a few gaps to fill, so it'd be interesting who they bring in and what young talent they potentially bring in. It'll be a good challenge for us."
The match in Birmingham is the first of three T20Is between the sides, with games in Northampton and Leeds to follow ahead of a three-match ODI series.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor, women's cricket, at ESPNcricinfo