World champions England did not play a 50-over game in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic; England, captained by Heather Knight, to face New Zealand in three ODIs and as many T20s in February and March
Last Updated: 15/02/21 10:30am
England all-rounder Nat Sciver says the tour of New Zealand provides a welcome opportunity to “build as a team” towards their World Cup title defence next year.
Sciver is acting as captain Heather Knight’s deputy for the tourists, in the absence of injured fast bowler Anya Shrubsole, ahead of three one-day internationals from February 23, with three Twenty20s following from March 3.
England did not play any 50-over cricket in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the World Cup in New Zealand being postponed until February-March 2022.
“When we heard that a lot of the tournaments that were planned had been postponed it was sort of a strange feeling knowing that you would have to motivate yourself in a different way in terms of your training and stuff,” Sciver told Sky Sports News.
“For now, the focus is the [New Zealand] series and being up for that.
“Having one eye on the World Cup will be important as well. I think being able to build as a team and hopefully be peaking by the time the tournament comes back around.”
Sciver says the squad, who have undergone a 14-day quarantine period since their arrival in New Zealand, are grateful to be playing international cricket.
England’s whitewash T20 series victory against West Indies in September on home soil was their only international action since their semi-final run at the T20 World Cup in Australia in February and March last year.
“It’s been quite tough getting back into the slightly longer format of the game,” added Sciver, who top-scored with 75 from 74 balls in their first warm-up game in Queenstown on Sunday.
“It’s been brilliant to even the chance to come over here and play any cricket really, knowing that some international teams haven’t played yet.
“Just to have that focus again really, something to motivate you when you are training and doing all the things that can be tough. We are in a great spot at the minute.”
Sciver says the absence of experienced team-mate Shrubsole is a blow but admits it will provide an opportunity for other bowlers to impress.
“It is a great chance for someone to have an opportunity that they may not have had before,” the 28-year-old said.
“Natasha Farrant has come back into the squad having missed out over the last few years and showed she has been working really hard while she wasn’t in the squad.
“Equally it gives a chance for those who have been around to give them a chance to open the bowling.”