Maia Bouchier interview: This England team is ready to win a major trophy

Maia Bouchier

England women’s head coach Jon Lewis now uses AI to support his selections. This summer, though, he will not need the help of a super-computer to decide to pick Maia Bouchier at the top of the order.

As a new international season begins at Edgbaston on Saturday, 25-year-old Bouchier finds herself in a position she never has before: locked into the XI. Tammy Beaumont missed out on the T20 squad to face Pakistan, while there was no place in either the one-day internationals or T20s for Sophia Dunkley.

Bouchier, who first played for England in 2021, has had to wait for her chance, getting a game here and there in all sorts of positions. But on March’s tour of New Zealand, she again capitalised on the absence of others – this time at the Women’s Premier League – to make her favoured position, at the top of the order, her own. Lewis described her as a “crackerjack cricketer”.

As a tall, athletic stroke-maker, she gives a refreshed England side a new dimension as they gear up for a crucial winter when they travel to Bangladesh in October for a T20 World Cup and Australia in January for the Ashes. This summer, which does not feature a Test match and hosts visits from Pakistan and New Zealand, is all about building towards those twin peaks.

“I’ve always wanted to open the batting,” she tells Telegraph Sport. “Even since I was a kid at U-11s, I have opened and it’s what I want to do for England. Getting the opportunity, I am exactly where I want to be.

“Nothing has changed because I scored runs in New Zealand and felt good doing it. I can’t let that get to me. I need to think about how I went about things in New Zealand, and replicate that.”

Bouchier believes that the improvement in her performances is down to opportunity, but also a focus on the mental side of the game. Lewis revealed that the coaches are not doing “technical” work with her, instead discussing how to build an innings. “The work that we’ve done with her in particular is around controlling emotion and controlling herself in the game and thinking tactically about how she’s going to play,” he said.

“I definitely think it’s been more of a focus working on the mental side of my game,” Bouchier says. “I have taken a lot of time out of cricket to talk to coaches and figure out what’s next and how I can get to the top level. The international level is very hard, and that’s what we have to do to stay at that level consistently.

“It’s about avoiding distraction. How can I shut out everything that is happening around me and focus on what I am doing?

“I’ve leant on two coaches, Alex Gidman with England and Paul Prichard at Southern Vipers. They are in my corner, which is what I’ve needed in the last year, to chat through those feelings, getting what’s in my head out there. I’ve been a lot more open with how I talk to people, and how I’ve felt in different situations.”

Lewis has been in charge for around 18 months now, in which time there have been considerable changes to the back-room staff and a number of young players have been blooded. They were knocked out of the T20 World Cup in South Africa at the semi-final stage – unquestionably a disappointment – and pulled off an impressive fightback to draw the women’s Ashes (which nevertheless were retained by Australia). Bouchier believes, though, that this is a team ready to win something significant.

“We are, 100 per cent [ready to win something],” she says. “This group has come on so much in the last year. Jon has done a fantastic job. As much as none of us like losing we had to go through that period of finding out what made us tick.

“What happened last year was incredible, finding that fight in the Ashes, while looking to inspire and entertain as Jon wants us to, to be aggressive and have that high intensity. That is ingrained in the group now. What is really important going into the next two events at the end of the year is that we don’t stop doing that. There are things to improve but I think the wins will come because the group is working so hard. There’s a big summer for us.”

Starting on Saturday, England have the chance to prove that.

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