Lauren Winfield wants to the right the wrongs for England in T20 World Cup

Tim Wigmore
The Telegraph
Lauren Winfield of England in action against Australia - Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Lauren Winfield of England in action against Australia - Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
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Since Lauren Winfield arrived in Australia four weeks ago, her England team-mates have grown tired of the same adverts for the T20 World Cup, repeated time after time. These show Australia lifting the Cup - their fourth triumph in six editions - after thumping England in the final two years ago.

“We want to win it; we want to write our wrongs a bit,” Winfield says from Perth. “You’re watching adverts on TV and they’re showing the Aussies lifting the trophy last time - it hurts, it kicks you in the feels a bit. We definitely want to go all the way but in order to do that we’ve just got to take it game-by-game.”

As England’s campaign begins against South Africa at the WACA at 11am on Sunday in group B, Winfield thinks that England have improved from 2018, when they lost to the Australians by eight wickets. There have been several retirements since then - most notably Sarah Taylor - while Mark Robinson has left as coach, replaced by the Australian Lisa Keightley. Keightley only took over as head coach last month - she already had extensive knowledge of many England players from her time as England Academy women's coach from 2011-15 and successful stint in the Big Bash.

Winfield has already detected a cultural shift. “It is different. Obviously Robbo’s style was much more direct,” she explains. “Lisa’s a bit more - they’re your plans as batters, they’re your plans as bowlers. It's up to you to trust and believe in them. If it doesn't work out, we'll get better but they're your plans and it's up to you to adapt in the moment.

“As a player, you’ve got no one else to blame. And you've got no one else to get you in a space where you feel prepared and ready.

“The team's in a different place to when Robbo took over. The knowledge that he imparted on us has left us in a much better place cricket knowledge wise and tactically. And I think with that, Lisa’s got the luxury of taking us in a further down the line developed stage where we probably don't need to be given that knowledge quite so much - because we know it now and we've played enough cricket.”

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There were encouraging signs of adapting during the warm-up tri-series against Australia and India, with England adjusting well to a slower pitch than expected in Canberra, where they won a Super Over against Australia. Winfield gives one example of players being more proactive that illustrates the subtle cultural shift: "In the field where this batter's not necessarily going to hit it out the ground, so can we get off the rope and save twos?”

Winfield has had to do some adapting too. A specialist batter who has opened in most her international career - though she batted at six in the last T20 World Cup - she has had to accept being moved down to number eight. “Obviously I would like to be higher up the order, there's no lie about that. If you're a genuine batter you want to be up and amongst them.”

Yet the new role at the end of the innings has brought Winfield extra clarity. “Your job is to either finish the game off or you’re coming in when things really haven't gone to plan. Lisa’s really keen to have a really loaded batting line-up and give batters the freedom to keep going through the middle knowing that we have genuine batters down the order for the last five overs and try and avoid those situations where you maybe dwindle out.”

For all that she would rather bat higher up, batting lower down has pushed Winfield to develop her game “trying to hit the spaces of where the gaps are in the last five overs, whether it be paddles or ramp shots or the ability to clear the ropes and reverse sweep or whatever is required.”

England's T20 World Cup fixtures
England's T20 World Cup fixtures

When the stakes are highest, and England are under greater pressure, so Winfield's role is likely to be more important. “Against the best teams, those positions are going to be really crucial in terms of probably the difference between winning and losing those close games. There’ll be times when you feel I’m not really contributing as much as you'd like but I think the big thing is protecting your confidence and being ready because those close contests you’re more likely to lose more wickets through the order and be required.”

It is possible that the tournament could end with Winfield entering at a crucial juncture in the final, when Australia are aiming to pack 95,000 into the Melbourne Cricket Ground for tournament's showpiece. After triumphing at Lord’s in the 50-over World Cup in 2017, in arguably the most momentous day in the history of women’s cricket, Winfield allows herself a little thought of what it would mean to be there on March 8.

“It's going to be a huge spectacle. It instantly makes you think about that feeling at Lords - having a packed house and atmosphere. They're the games you want to be involved in as a player.

“When we were at Lords in 2017, that atmosphere and that feeling as a player, you’ll hold on to forever. It’s certainly something we want to feel again - to be able to play in front of such an incredible crowd in a massive occasion is pretty much what you put all the hours of work in for. You want to showcase your talent and what you work so hard at as a team and show the world how good you are.”

And then, Winfield laughs, by the time the next tournament comes around, there will be “adverts of us lifting the trophy”.

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