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Fit-again Sarah Glenn ready for Pakistan after concussion lay-off

Leg-spinner and colleagues not taking selection for granted amid unprecedented squad depth

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
With a frustrating bout of concussion behind her, England leg-spinner Sarah Glenn is fighting fit once more and ready to face Pakistan in what shapes as a key series in the build-up to the T20 World Cup.
Glenn's preparations took an inopportune pause after she hit her head on the ground attempting to take a catch during England's third T20I against New Zealand in Nelson towards the end of March and was subsequently sent home, missing the last two T20Is and three ODIs.
She didn't play another match until exactly a month later, for The Blaze in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, but after a total of three games in the domestic 50-over competition including 2 for 36 from 10 overs in a narrow defeat to Thunder on Monday, she is ready to resume her role as part of England's frontline spin attack alongside Sophie Ecclestone and Charlie Dean.
The trio will have a crucial role as England prepare for the T20 Women's World Cup in Bangladesh in October by hosting Pakistan in three T20Is, starting at Edgbaston on Saturday, followed by three ODIs before New Zealand arrive for a return series in June and July.
"Obviously whacking my head in the last series wasn't ideal but I was really happy with how I started the last series, even though it was just the first couple of games, I felt I played my role really well," Glenn said on Thursday.
"With concussion it's really hard to switch off so I ended up just having some downtime to myself and then when I got home, just having another week or so just trying to switch off as much as I could and then from there, just built it up gradually, started to reintroduce some skills and get the brain working a little bit more.
"Then I managed to play a few regional games. That helped me build up, ready for this series, just to get a bit of confidence in the middle. It's been quite a gradual process as concussion's quite a frustrating injury, but I've been looked after really well and I'm excited to get going with Pakistan."
While Glenn, left-armer Ecclestone and off-spinner Dean are England's first-choice spinners, they are well aware of those in pursuit. Linsey Smith, another left-armer, returned to England's ranks for the first time in nearly five years during the tour of New Zealand and has kept her place in the T20 squad to face Pakistan. Smith took 2 for 12 from four overs for an ECB Development XI which defeated Pakistan in a T20 warm-up match on Thursday.
Also part of the Development XI were quick Issy Wong, who was omitted from the senior side along with batter Sophia Dunkley. Dunkley has scored 67 and 130 in the RHFT immediately after being challenged by England head coach Jon Lewis to rediscover her best form "away from the bigger limelight" of the Pakistan series. She scored 1 opening for the Development XI alongside Danni Wyatt, who made 57 before joining the senior squad.
"Even though those amazing players were left out, they still feel so part of the group and they could come in at any minute and it also feels like anyone could be dropped out at any minute," Glenn said. "It is a special place to be in terms of how competitive it is and how much that's growing the game forward and it really makes you work hard on your game.
"I definitely feel like we're quite a strong trio at the moment but… it does feel like you can just make a swap at any point. We've seen so many talented spinners in the regional set-up performing consistently so the pressure's kind of always on to keep our place.
"Even though it might appear solid at the time, we know deep down that we've just got to keep performing and keep doing our part for the team to retain our spot."
While England inevitably have one eye on the T20 World Cup already, Glenn was careful not to look too far ahead to what the pitches in Bangladesh could offer while playing in very different conditions at home.
"It's a spinner's dream to play there but, personally for me, I've also never been there myself and I've got no experience in Bangladesh," Glenn said. "So I think when I get out there it's just [about taking] what's in front of me and trying not get too giddy and expect so much, just keep sticking to what I'm doing. I'm just excited to see how it plays out.
"We've not played Pakistan for a while so we're going to come across different batters who play different ways. What would be really crucial for our spinners, but also as a bowling attack, is keeping the communication up in those pressured moments about what's needed for us right now, because there are going to be those moments where we do feel under the pump and we want to get out the other side of that.
"After the series we'll be reflecting on what worked and what we could take forward going then into the New Zealand series and, I think, as long as we keep doing that, we'll just keep developing our game ready for the World Cup."

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