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England’s unfortunate loss in India continues a concerning trend during Jon Lewis’ tenure.

Heather Knight has advocated for five-day women’s Tests for a long time. However, she recently oversaw a match that ended in just three days, resulting in England’s first loss in this duration in over twenty years.

Despite England’s crushing 347-run loss to India in the one-off Mumbai Test, Knight remained optimistic during her Saturday speech. She suggested that attention should be shifted to England’s victories in the white-ball portion of the tour, as they emerged victorious in two out of three Twenty20 matches prior to the Test.

She stated that we have a philosophical approach to losing the Test. The conditions were very challenging and it is unlikely that we will encounter them again unless we have another Test match in India soon, although that is not currently part of our plans. Our main focus is on the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh next year.

England does not have any upcoming Test matches until November of next year against South Africa, and there are no planned matches in India until at least 2025. This is according to the future tours schedule. Additionally, it is challenging for a team to excel in both red-ball and white-ball cricket, as Tests are infrequent in women’s cricket.

However, dismissing a loss by stating that the game was insignificant is not a convincing argument for increasing the amount of Test cricket played. Knight, who believes that Test cricket is the highest level of her sport, cannot deny that being bowled out for 136 and 131 runs in two innings and only batting for 63 overs in a four-day match is a humiliating performance.

The concern is that this may not be an isolated occurrence, but rather a recurring issue for England under the guidance of Jon Lewis. This follows a loss in a T20 series to Sri Lanka last September and a close call in chasing a score of 81 in the second T20 against India, only to be bowled out for 126 in the third. Is Jon-ball (the aggressive style of play named after the coach) promoting a one-dimensional approach?

Sri Lanka celebrate their win over England.

England will have a long break before their next international duty, which is a tour of New Zealand in March focused on limited-overs cricket. A major focus will be on helping Sophie Ecclestone recover from her recent shoulder injury, as she has shown frustration with her performance in India. Nat Sciver-Brunt commented during the Test that Ecclestone gets emotional because she sets high standards for herself due to her past success, and she wants to return to that level before her injury.

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Another worry will be the form of Sophia Dunkley, who has been England’s opener of choice in T20 cricket for the past 18 months, but since the start of 2023 has hit just one international half century. The technical changes to her grip which she made after a difficult summer, along with attending Lewis’s emergency batting boot camp in Mumbai in October, do not seem to have done the trick; England may yet have to make a difficult call ahead of September’s World Cup in Bangladesh, especially with Maia Bouchier eager to take on the opener mantle.

Regardless, let’s hope that Lewis is engaging in more sincere discussions in the locker room compared to the one Knight had with the press following the game. Brushing off a defeat as severe as this in more than two decades is not an effective way to prepare for a World Cup.

Source: theguardian.com