Heather Knight hopes Test cricket ‘becomes the norm’ in women’s game as England face India in June

Heather Knight hopes England’s Test match at home to India this summer can lead to red-ball fixtures becoming a staple of the women’s game around the world.

England play a solitary Test match against Australia during Ashes series but have not played any other side in the longest form since a defeat to India in 2014, while India have gone over six years without a Test.

Knight’s side will face India in Bristol from June 16-19 as they begin a summer programme which also includes white-ball series against both the Asian side and New Zealand.

  • England Women to begin summer schedule with India Test
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“Realistically, T20 is the format that is going to grow the women’s game around the world but it is really important we keep Test cricket going,” said England captain Knight, who scored 157 in a Test against Australia in 2013 and then two half-centuries when the sides met in 2017.

“I’d love to keep playing Test cricket and I’d love to see the multi-format series we have for The Ashes – a Test match, three ODI and three T20s – as the norm going forward. I’d love to play a Test match in India, as well. I think it would be a massive challenge.

“One of my proudest moments in an England shirt is scoring a Test century and that speaks for the way Test cricket is seen.”

On this summer’s red-ball game, Knight added: “It’s going to be a really big occasion. I think it is a great addition.

“To know we have got two Test matches in nine months – the other in the Ashes – is really nice because usually it is one every two years.

“I don’t play much Test cricket but when I do, and the girls do, we really enjoy it, it is definitely rated highly among the players. We enjoy the challenge of doing something we don’t do very often.”

England’s summer schedule is spread across nine venues – Bristol, Taunton, Worcester, Northampton, Hove, Chelmsford, Leicester, Derby and Canterbury.

Lord’s – where Knight’s side beat India in front of a sold-out crowd in July 2017 to win the 50-over World Cup – is absent from that list, as are some of the county’s other larger grounds.

Knight, who will play at the Home of Cricket for London Spirit during The Hundred, said: “I’d love to play at Lord’s but I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed [not to be playing there for England this summer].

“I think the women’s game works really well at smaller venues. You have big crowds in small venues that really create an atmosphere.

“Lord’s in 2017 and the MCG in 2020 [where 86,174 fans, a record attendance for a women’s cricket match, watched Australia face India in the T20 World Cup final] showed what can be done when the game is properly marketed and advertised and there is a story that people follow throughout the competition.

“But if Australia played at the MCG every week they wouldn’t sell it out. It is an ambition and should be worked towards but I think us consistently selling out the smaller venues in England should be a target first before we go to bigger grounds.”

Knight also gave her backing for a women’s edition of the Indian Premier League, something England all-rounder Ben Stokes recently championed.

Knight added: “I think it was awesome to see Stokesy talk about the Women’s IPL. The more allies we have in women’s cricket really helps to change perceptions.

“It was great for Ben to say that and I totally agree. I think it would be amazing for the women’s game to have an IPL.

“You have seen in Australia with the Big Bash – and hopefully in England with The Hundred – that having men’s and women’s competitions alongside each other is really positive for the women’s game and really helps to progress things.”

Watch England Women’s matches with India and New Zealand, plus every game from The Hundred, live on Sky Sports this summer. The men’s IPL continues throughout April and May on Sky Sports.

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