England not ready to recall Sophia Dunkley despite top-order struggles

Sophia Dunkley has impressed England with a perfect response to being dropped, but assistant coach Gareth Breese says she may still need to bide her time.

Dunkley was a notable omission from the first international squads of the summer, dispatched back to South East Stars to recover her confidence after some indifferent form, and produced a striking riposte by smashing 130 against Northern Diamonds in the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy last week.

In her absence, England’s preferred top order was knocked over in double quick time during Saturday’s T20 opener against Pakistan, slipping to 11 for four before the hosts rallied to a comfortable win.

Maia Bouchier has been handed a chance at the head of the innings.
Maia Bouchier has been handed a chance at the head of the innings (Joe Giddens/PA)

“As a batter sometimes it’s one mistake and you’re back in pavilion. It’s not an ideal situation to be 11 for four, but one thing you can say about this set-up is that we back the girls,” he said.

“They wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t backed them. One blip and we’re not just going to make an absolute U-turn. It’s just one of those things and I’m sure we’ll be remedying it in the games to come.

“We’re trying not to chop and change selection. Hopefully (Dunkley) can play a few games rather than sit with us on the bench. I think that will be better for her.

“Every time a player leaves us that’s the intention, we can support her and give her the opportunity to get some more time in the middle and it’s working exactly how we would want it to.

“She has gone back and done what she’s done for years, she’s gone again and scored runs. All you can ask when you’re out of favour and you go back is to let the runs do the talking.”

The reliable trio of Sophie Ecclestone, Sarah Glenn and Charlie Dean all sit in the top five T20 bowlers in the ICC rankings, but Breese is motivated to push them for continual improvement.

“I’m probably a little bit of a ‘grumpy dad’,” he said.

“I try not to get flattered by the ratings, I just want them to keep improving and it will happen as a by-product. But credit to the girls for the work they’ve put in over the last few years to get that recognition in the standings.”

Vice-captain Nat Sciver-Brunt is back in training after missing the opening game due to a minor medical procedure and will return to the XI on Friday in Northampton.

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