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It is uncertain if England Women’s Charlie Dean will be able to play in the first T20 match against India.

It is possible that England’s women’s team will not have Charlie Dean available for their first Twenty20 match against India on Wednesday. This is due to the fact that the off-spinner got a stomach bug while playing in the recent England A series against India.

England’s head coach, Jon Lewis, had planned to use the 22-year-old as a third spin choice for the tour. However, captain Heather Knight stated that Dean was still recuperating from an illness and it was uncertain if she would be ready for the first match in Mumbai on Wednesday.

There is positive news for England as it appears that Sophie Ecclestone will be making her return to international play after being sidelined with a shoulder injury. She was unable to participate in the series against Sri Lanka in September. On Tuesday, Knight stated that the left-arm spinner is in good physical condition and ready to play.

The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai will host three T20 matches between England and India, followed by a four-day Test. This will mark the first time in 18 years that England’s women’s team will play a Test match in the subcontinent. This series comes after England’s loss in a T20 series against Sri Lanka in September and will challenge their skills in handling subcontinental conditions.

During the game against Sri Lanka, Knight’s team only managed to score 104 and 116 runs, with 15 of their 20 wickets being taken by spin bowlers. In an effort to improve their batting skills, Lewis arranged for a last-minute batting training session in Mumbai in October. The session involved young players such as Alice Capsey, Sophia Dunkley, Danielle Gibson, Bess Heath, Freya Kemp, and Emma Lamb, giving them a glimpse of what to expect in the upcoming years. This includes the 2024 T20 World Cup in Bangladesh and the 2025 50-over edition in India.

Lewis praised the camp as a valuable learning opportunity for a team of players who are inexperienced in Indian conditions. The England team’s previous visit to India was in 2019, so 11 members of the current squad have not yet competed in international cricket there. However, two of those 11 – Capsey and Lauren Bell – did participate in the Women’s Premier League in March.

The latest meeting between the two teams, which took place in September 2022, caused controversy when England was defeated in the final one-day international at Lord’s due to Deepti Sharma’s Mankad run-out of Dean who was backing up at the non-striker’s end.

Sophie Ecclestone

Knight acknowledged that India is a formidable team and that playing in their home conditions will be a challenge. She also mentioned the enthusiastic support they received during the WPL in Mumbai, making it difficult to silence the crowds. Playing in India puts one’s skill and character to the test, as they have to adapt to the noise, heat, and conditions.

The series comes on the back of the announcement on Monday of the latest batch of England central contracts, under which Gibson and Maia Bouchier were awarded their first deals. The 22-year-old wicketkeeper-in-waiting Heath, plus the fast bowlers Lauren Filer and Mahika Gaur, are the beneficiaries of the new development contracts, designed to support players whom the England and Wales Cricket Board expects to play a major role in future years.

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Furthermore, the ECB aims to revive the domestic women’s cricket scene through Project Darwin, which received official approval at a recent board meeting. As a result, the current eight regional teams will be integrated into the first-class counties by the 2025 season. The selection of the eight host counties will be determined through a tender process starting next month.

At present, the ECB holds ownership over the regions and they operate separately from the counties. Although this new structure was implemented in 2020 as a crucial initial move to increase the number of professional players in England and Wales, it has not been as effective in promoting the growth of women’s domestic cricket in terms of commercial success.

After the reorganization, it is expected that the teams will keep some of their current branding, such as Hampshire Vipers taking ownership of Southern Vipers. This shift in ownership to the counties will allow for coordinated marketing efforts and synchronized double-headers, which have been effective in increasing viewership for women’s cricket in The Hundred.

Source: theguardian.com