Sarah Glenn knows she’s part of something “special” so while she appreciates what she has from within, team-mates and fans can marvel at an exciting era in England women’s cricket.
Named Player of the Series after England’s 5-0 sweep of their T20I series against West Indies on Wednesday night, Glenn is one element in a three-pronged spin attack that looks set to feature internationally for years to come.
The variety offered by left-armer Sophie Ecclestone, the world’s No.1 T20I bowler, Glenn’s legspin and the offspin of Mady Villiers gives England a raft of options. Plus, Ecclestone and Glenn are just 21 and Villiers 22.
“It’s really special,” Glenn said of being part of the close-knit trio. “I absolutely love it. We click really well together on and off the field and I feel like I can just go and talk to them about anything.
“We help each other on the pitch, talk about what the pitch is doing, how they’re playing, what’s the best ball and then time off the pitch is great, we all have a great laugh. We’re just really happy for each other, seeing each other do well, it’s really exciting to see.”
She echoed similar sentiments at this year’s T20 World Cup in Australia from Ecclestone, who spoke of their “spin companionship”.
“They are some of my best friends now, and it’s really nice to have them performing well and winning games for England,” Ecclestone said in March. “It’s a dream come true really.”
Heather Knight, the England captain knows she’s been dealt an exceptional hand.
“It’s great to have,” Knight says. “We’ve obviously got a lot of experience in our seam department and those spinners just give us a few different options so we can match up against different batters. In T20, that’s very important. They can take wickets, control other teams’ batters in different conditions. It’s really pleasing.”
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What struck Knight most about her spinning youth brigade during the series against West Indies was their courage, epitomised in Glenn’s lbw dismissal of Deandra Dottin in the second T20I, a full, looping legbreak that Dottin aimed to sweep and missed.
“Sophie and Sarah have been consistently in the side for a long time now and really done well for us,” Knight said “To see Mady take her opportunity like that – she obviously didn’t bowl in the first game due to a few tactical bits, but yeah really delighted for them.
“They’ve been really brave as well, you saw Sarah Glenn get Deandra out the other day by tossing the ball up, and if you don’t quite get that right you know it’s going to go the distance.
“It’s been really pleasing to see them be really brave in how they go about things in looking to take wickets which is something we want to keep on doing as a side – something we’ve addressed since the World Cup that we want to get better at, taking wickets particularly through that middle period – and those spinners are a massive part of that.”
Glenn’s seven wickets for the series against West Indies came at an average of 12.00 and an economy rate of 5.60. Her 46 runs included a valuable 26 from 19 balls which rescued England from 96 for 6 and carried them to a what proved to be a winning total in a Player-of-the-Match performance in the second fixture.
While Ecclestone played her first T20I as a 17-year-old in 2016, Glenn only made her international debut last December, against Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur in the lead-up to the T20 World Cup, and she went on to impress in four matches at the global tournament, claiming six wickets.
Villiers also truly came into the reckoning for England during that warm-up series in Malaysia having played just one international match, a T20I against Australia during the Ashes the previous July. She had to wait until the last group match against West Indies to feature at the T20 World Cup, but she dismissed Shemaine Campbelle with her fourth ball, a sharp return catch in a wicket maiden.
Villiers’ fielding is seen as a huge asset and there are several observers keen to see her given more of a chance with the bat as well as the ball. Ecclestone has the ability to hit big and Glenn’s innings in the second match against West Indies prompted her to declare her ambition to become a genuine allrounder.
It is a prospect Charlotte Edwards, the former England captain and now Sky Sports commentator, sees in the future for all three England spinners.
“They’re so exciting as a three,” Edwards said. “All very different, so young, but in many ways quite experienced now. It’s unbelievable really to think how good they are and how good they can be.
“I think with the three of them it’s their batting that’s the exciting element for me as well, not only are they going to be world-class bowlers but I think they’re going to be really handy allrounders.
“To have to have some hard-hitting batters coming in down the lower order as well as world-class bowlers, that’s so exciting. The sky’s the limit for them all, I think.”
Laura MacLeod, the former England international who is now Director of West Midlands Women’s Cricket – one of the eight regional hubs for the domestic women’s game – played against a teenage Ecclestone at club level. She saw then that Ecclestone was on the right path to the England team. McLeod has also been impressed by Glenn, who played two matches for her Central Sparks outfit in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, and by what she has seen of Villiers.
“It’s really exciting,” McLeod said. “It’s just a coach’s dream to have a left-armer, to have a leggy and an offie that have all got talent and they’re not just talented with the ball they can all bat as well. The future for England, from a spin point of view is certainly bright.”
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