Katherine Brunt ‘big loss’ to England Women Test team as side enters new era, says Lisa Keightley

England will play South Africa in a test match in Taunton from June 27, without the withdrawn Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole; Emily Arlott, Lauren Bell and Freya Davies are aiming for test debuts as the team begins an “exciting new era” – watch the match live on Sky Sports

Katherine Brunt withdrew from Test Cricket this weekend – the nearest took 51 wickets in 14 games with an average of 21.53

England head coach Lisa Keightley says Katherine Brunt will be a “big loss” when she plans to compose a test attack without the closest and her longtime partner Anya Shrubsole.

Brown, 36, announced he was retiring from the longer format to focus on the white ball game, while Shrubsole, 30, quit all forms of international cricket in April.

As a result, England’s rhythm unit will get a fresh feeling when they play against South Africa in Taunton between 27-30 June, live on sky sport.

Seam bowlers Lauren Bell and Emily Arlott can make their first international appearances, while pacer colleague Freya Davies is set to play her first Test after 24 limited games for her country.

Keightley said of Brunt and Shrubsole’s departures: “They have both been on the ball for over 10 years and done what they do. They have had ups and downs in form, but overall they have been very consistent.

“You know what you’ll get from them. We do not know what we’ll get from the others, but it’s exciting and it offers new opportunities.”

“It’s the end of an era and we have to create a new one, see which players will raise their hands and lead the way with the ball. Our hands have been forced, so let’s see how it goes.”

“Katherine will be a huge loss in Test cricket. There are times in matches when she has the team behind her and times that will be really difficult to replace, as well as her passion and fire.

“I do not know if we have another person on the team with his fire, that competitive advantage and ruthlessness. We will find out if we have another on the wings with the same white line fever.”

Brown, who claimed 51 wickets in 14 Tests, says it was “heartbreaking” to leave the arena for red balls, but that the decision will allow him to put all his efforts into short-form cricket.

Keightley told reporters that Brunt’s focus is now entirely on the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this summer, with the event including a T20 tournament for women for the first time.

Seam bowler Lauren Bell was able to make her England debut during the test match in Taunton

“I was not surprised [Brunt retired from Test cricket]. The Commonwealth Games are their priority. She wants to play in that tournament and be in a very good place, fit and healthy to do so, Keightley said.

“We know from our last two test matches that she has really struggled in 10 days and we know that with series in several formats, they will be thick and fast.” [England’s Test match against South Africa is followed by three one-day internationals and as many T20 internationals].

“In the end, she did not have the bowling load behind her to play in this test. It would have been a high risk.”

“He was probably thinking of the next Ashes [in 2023] it was too far away, so if he did not play in this test, he probably would not play another.

“I think she’s made the smart move and knowing we can get her in the best spot before the Commonwealth Games is pretty exciting.

International Cricket Council chairman Greg Barclay recently said he did not believe women’s Test matches were “part of the picture going forward in any real measure”.

Asked about these comments, Keightley added: “I’ve been in women’s cricket for a few decades so it’s disappointing to hear.

“Realistically, I do not think all countries can play this format, I understand that, but I think we should challenge and have a desire to improve women’s cricket and make it grow. The way to do that is to play more test matches.

“Players really want to play it. I think recent test matches have shown that it’s a pretty exciting format if we play it to take the game forward. You have to learn the art of test cricket.”

Watch England’s test match against South Africa live on Sky Sports from 27 June.

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