Jon Lewis recognises the importance of Nat Sciver-Brunt even as a specialist batter but the England head coach believes his side get maximum value from her as a true all-rounder.
A lingering knee problem has meant a reduced workload this summer, with Sciver-Brunt bowling just 44 overs in the drawn multi-format Women’s Ashes – although her 404 runs at an average of 57.71 saw her named England’s player of the series.
Rested for the shock T20 series loss against Sri Lanka, she returned exclusively as a batter for three ODIs and set a new benchmark for the fastest century by an Englishwoman in the format off 66 balls.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) September 15, 2023
Speaking after England wrapped up a 2-0 series win as they prevailed by a thumping 161-run margin at Grace Road, Sciver-Brunt revealed her intention to get back to bowling on the winter tour of India.
That is music to the ears of Lewis, who took no risks with his star asset in this series, preferring instead to hand other seamers a chance and give Sciver-Brunt a longer shelf life as an all-rounder.
Lewis argued having the number one ranked batter and all-rounder in ODIs back in a dual role will allow England to potentially field three spinners at next year’s T20 World Cup in Bangladesh and the 50-over equivalent in India in 2025.
“Nat’s a brilliant all-rounder,” Lewis said. “We’ve just made the decision to prioritise when she bowls, not only to give other people opportunity but to make sure that we have her as an all-rounder for as long as we possibly can.
“That’s really important for this team, the balance she brings for the team makes it much easier to put (an extra spinner) in the team. That’s fantastic, especially when we’re going to the subcontinent.
“The fact (Sciver-Brunt) can bowl seam in the powerplay and do a really good job with the new ball makes it easier for me to select three spinners in the side which is something I really want to do in those conditions.”
Sophia Dunkley, Danni Wyatt, Sophie Ecclestone and Lauren Bell were all missing for the last assignment of England’s summer schedule, with Heather Knight absent for the final match in Leicester as she was feeling unwell, leading to Sciver-Brunt standing in as captain.
In their absence, the speedy Lauren Filer and teenage left-armer Mahika Gaur have caught the eye while Maia Bouchier, another on the fringes, thumped 95 off 65 balls on Thursday.
Lewis, whose 10-month reign has seen a more attack-minded approach from England, has been encouraged by what he has witnessed – eager to expand the talent pool and create a number of selection dilemmas.
He said: “We’ve chosen different times to expose different players because it gives us a really great opportunity to see how they do at different moments, but also it’s more about the long-term planning.
“It’s making sure that we’re peaking at the right time for the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh and the 50-over World Cup in India the year after.
“When people take opportunities then it makes selection incredibly hard for the next time out, but that’s something for down the road.
“We know we’re a developing team and we’re on a journey to get to where we want to get to.
“The fun bit is everyone’s going for it and I hope the players feel that in our dressing room, it’s OK to make mistakes and so that then frees them up to try things that they might not ordinarily try.”