Jon Lewis says England’s women are ‘ready to fly’ as he takes over the side

Heather Knight (left) and Issy Wong (right) jump and celebrate a wicket together
England coach Jon Lewis says England’s blend of youth and experience makes it an “exciting” time to take over the team

England women’s new head coach Jon Lewis says the “team is ready to fly” as they prepare for their winter tour of the West Indies.

The white-ball tour is Lewis’ first in charge, and he is boosted by captain Heather Knight’s return from injury.

He takes over a side that is starting to transition, with Lisa Keightley blooding plenty of young talent during the summer – but that excites him.

“The ceiling is incredibly high for this group of players,” he said.

Speaking after his first training session with the squad, Lewis said the team has benefitted from giving their younger players early exposure to international cricket.

“We’ve got a beautifully balanced side,” he said.

“With the emergence of some players this summer who might not have got those opportunities had all our senior players been fit, then we might be in a very different position now.

“But I’m very fortunate they have tasted international cricket now and know what it takes to win at international level.”

It was a difficult end to the summer for England, and a difficult end to Lisa Keightley’s reign. They thrashed South Africa in the multi-format series, but finished fourth in the Commonwealth Games and lost 3-0 in the one-day internationals against India.

They were without Knight, who had hip surgery, while Nat Sciver and Katherine Brunt took breaks from the game.

But Lewis takes the side to the Caribbean with all three fit and available – though Brunt is only selected for the T20 leg of the tour and Sciver has chosen to no longer be vice-captain – and is excited to combine their experience with the emerging talent of Alice Capsey, Issy Wong, Lauren Bell and Freya Kemp.

“They are exciting young cricketers and the world’s their oyster,” he said. “I’m excited to help them release that potential and there’s nothing this group can’t achieve.

“I think this team is ready to fly. My job is to take the handbrake off, free them up and allow them to play to their full potential.”

While the West Indies tour is Lewis’ first assignment, attention soon turns to the T20 World Cup in South Africa in February, a tournament in which England will be desperate to impress after missing out on the final in 2020.

They reached the 50-over World Cup final back in March but were thrashed by Australia, but Lewis is confident of bouncing back.

“We know we’re not too far away from winning trophies, and there were small moments in those games that had they gone our way, we’d be world champions,” added 47-year-old ex-Gloucestershire seamer Lewis.

“But Australia have been dominant, and rightly so, they play some fantastic cricket but we’re looking to play a brand of cricket to challenge them and knock them off the top.”

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