England Women came up just short in the big events in 2022, losing to Australia in the final of the 50-over World Cup and then suffering a semi-final exit to India at the Commonwealth Games.
But a new year presents new opportunities – the chance to win the T20 World Cup for the first time since 2009 and regain the Ashes from Australia for the first time since 2014.
Ahead of the T20 World Cup in South Africa in February and then the Ashes on home soil in June and July – both of which are live on Sky Sports – we look at the young guns who could prove key for England…
Sophie Ecclestone (23)
Left-arm spinner Ecclestone, a veteran of over 120 international appearances, made her England debut as a 17-year-old and has gone on to become one of the finest bowlers in the game, ascending to the top of both the one-day international and T20 international rankings. Ecclestone is a frequent wicket-taker but also incredibly economical, as she proved in a recent ODI against West Indies in Antigua when her figures read 3-9 from nine overs, with six maidens. Her lower-order batting has also become crucial, with the all-rounder pummelling 26 runs off one over against South Africa last summer – her onslaught featuring three fours and two sixes.
Alice Capsey (18)
Capsey will begin the year rehabbing a dislocated shoulder she suffered in the field on the tour of West Indies but England remain hopeful she will be back in time for the T20 World Cup. The teenager looked to have nailed down the No 3 berth in the T20 side – it was from that spot where she struck her maiden international fifty and has only failed to make double figures twice in nine knocks – while she was promoted to the opening position in the ODI team by new England head coach Jon Lewis prior to her tour-ending injury. With Lewis wanting England to play an aggressive brand of cricket akin to the men’s team, Capsey’s dynamism will be vital. She is also a more than handy off-spinner and a real livewire in the field.
Sophia Dunkley (24)
Like Ecclestone, Dunkley is now a regular in all three formats, marking her red-ball debut in 2021, when she became the first Black woman to play Test cricket for England, with a half-century. Since last summer, she has been England’s ODI No 3, hitting a maiden century, against South Africa, and two fifties in that time, while she opens in T20 internationals having nudged out Tammy Beaumont to be Danni Wyatt’s partner up top. Looking ahead to the Ashes, which will feature a five-day Test match, Dunkley will be aiming to improve her record against Australia. Her best against the Southern Stars so far is 45 from eight innings across the red and white-ball formats.
Issy Wong (20)
The fast bowler is hard to miss with her funky haircuts and infectious personality and is now working over international batters after making her Test, ODI and T20I debuts for England in 2022. Wong, who is aiming to become the first woman to bowl 80mph, flourished on her Test bow against South Africa in June, cleaning up Proteas opener Laura Wolvaardt with a superb nip-backer to bag her first international wicket and then taking two more in the tourists’ second innings to put England in a strong position to push for victory before the weather intervened. Wong, seen as the long-term successor to Katherine Brunt, was withdrawn from the Big Bash due to a minor back issue, while she made a solitary appearance in the West Indies due to a quad niggle.
Lauren Bell (21)
If Wong is the new Brunt, then Bell is the new Anya Shrubsole – skilful, accurate and with a hooping in-swinger. The seamer, nicknamed The Shard because of her height, joined Wong in making her Test, T20 and ODI debuts in 2022 and starred on the recent white-ball tour of the West Indies, picking up 14 wickets across five matches in the ODI and T20I formats, including two four-wicket hauls. Dunkley says her Southern Brave team-mate can become the “leader” of the bowling attack in years to come and Australia will certainly have their hands full coming up against her in 2023.
Watch the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup and the Women’s Ashes live on Sky Sports in 2023.