Issy Wong made her first England appearance of the summer in Saturday’s second T20 international against Sri Lanka. It soon became clear why she has been absent.
The fast bowler sent down three front-foot no-balls and a wide in a 10-ball first over and was then crunched for three fours in her second after being brought back with Sri Lanka needing 13 to win.
The run-up and rhythm issues that had led to Wong being dropped by Birmingham Phoenix in The Hundred – a tournament in which she conceded 62 runs and took just one wicket for the 30 balls she bowled – were on full display at Chelmsford.
Sky Sports pundits Charles Dagnall and Mark Butcher asked whether it was the right call to pick Wong – but England captain Knight said she had no regrets, insisting the team, and the bowler herself, wanted to assess where she was at with her game.
“We played her to get some context over where she is at,” explained Knight. “She felt in a really good place on the back of a couple of good training sessions and finding where she is at is important – in the middle, not just in the nets. I don’t regret playing her at all.
“She still has a bit of work to do but she has something we want to invest in. What impresses me is that she wants to work on her game and find things. She will get there eventually.
“We know what sort of cricketer she can be, which is why we’ve backed her when she’s been struggling a little bit.
Has ‘listening to different voices’ affected Wong?
“She’s been struggling a little bit for rhythm the whole summer. She’s been given five balls at a time in the Hundred and hasn’t had a chance to come back from spells. That’s probably put a lot of pressure on how she starts.
“She has been trying a few things and listening to a lot of different voices, which has probably led to her run-up issues. She didn’t really have those earlier in the summer.
“It was a tough day and sometimes when you’re exposed to that sort of pressure situation it can make it tougher, but she’s a pretty resilient character, a pretty positive person, so I don’t think it will affect her too much.”
Sky Sports pundit and former England batter Lydia Greenway said of Wong’s selection: “I put it down to England backing her and saying, ‘get back on the horse’.
“When you have a bad experience, you sometimes do everything you can to take yourself out of being in that position again.
“For Wong, bowling in a top-level game with cameras and a crowd, is something she had to be exposed to at some time. Unfortunately, it didn’t go the right way.”
Beaumont: Wong will come back stronger
Wong burst on the international scene in the summer of 2022, making her England debuts across all three formats and hurrying batters with her pace, while she then took a hat-trick earlier this year while bowling for Mumbai Indians in the Women’s Premier League.
England batter Tammy Beaumont, speaking while on punditry duty for Sky Sports, said: “England will be really supportive. They want to bring [Wong] in, keep her close and look after her.
“It didn’t work out here but I am all for it. We know she is so talented, we know she will come back stronger from this.
“She was out here earlier than any of the other girls having a bowl [before the second T20]. It will take time but when she comes through these tough times she will be grateful.”
Knight added: “[England bowling coach] Matt Mason is working with Issy around getting her back to where we know she can be.
“She has a clear plan over the next month about what she is going to do with Matt. They are going to work very closely to get her to a place where she needs to be.”
Watch the series-deciding third T20 international between England and Sri Lanka, from Derby, live on Sky Sports Cricket on Wednesday. Build-up begins at 5.30pm ahead of the first ball at 6pm. Stream with NOW for £26 a month for 12 months.