England star Anya Shrubsole says she’s dug herself out of the hole of a ‘horrible’ Ashes summer in time for a tilt at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, writes Tom Harle.
India fell at Shrubsole’s feet as she took 6-46 to help England lift the 50-over World Cup in 2017 and she leads England’s attack into an SCG semi-final against the same opposition on Thursday.
But it wasn’t so long ago Shrubsole and her side were assailed by poor form, particularly during last summer’s disastrous Ashes defeat to Australia, a turnaround she feels new coach Lisa Keightley has led.
“I had the worst 12 months I’ve had in an England shirt leading up to this tournament,” said the seasoned seamer.
“I had a horrible summer in 2019, so it’s been nice for the ball to be coming out well now. I got a bit out of form and when you're playing against a top team like Australia, they put the pressure on.
“My confidence went. I’ve been fortunate in my career not to have many long spells like that, but I’ve had to find a way of being really excited about playing, not nervous.
“I am towards the latter end of my career and when you don’t know how many more World Cups you’ll play, you really want to enjoy the ones you're involved in.
“Lisa has worked with the majority of the girls at some point and coming off the back of the summer, we knew as a group we wanted to take more responsibility and ownership of our game.
“Those two things have helped the transition. Lisa encourages us to be really relaxed and enjoy our cricket and that’s worked for us.”
Only India’s Poonam Yadav has more wickets than Shrubsole at the tournament and she became the first England bowler to 100 T20I wickets when hitting the milestone against Pakistan.
With 41 scalps Shrubsole also has the most wickets in the history of the Women’s T20 World Cup, outstripping Ellyse Perry with 37.
The 28-year-old hasn’t always been backed up in the field in Australia, however, with fielding standards coming under the spotlight after a succession of dropped catches from various countries.
Lauren Winfield dropped two chances in England’s opening defeat to South Africa, and despite strolling to victory over West Indies, catches were grassed by Katherine Brunt and Nat Sciver.
With the women’s game taking a global stage with semi-finals at the SCG and a final at the MCG set to be played in front of a record crowd, Shrubsole urged her peers to rise to the occasion.
“I don’t know why the fielding has been so poor. It seems to happen now and again, you have a tournament where fielding goes down the drain,” she said.
“It's not been a case of pressure from our point of view, it's just been individuals making mistakes. Sometimes dropping catches becomes infectious.
“The spotlight will be on everyone at the SCG, not just in terms of the fielding but the batting and bowling. It’s an amazing venue and one that is a real privilege to play at.
“You should want to play in these semi-finals and finals of World Cups with thousands of people watching. They’re the really exciting games to play in."