After years as a bit-part player, England’s Danni Wyatt says she is relishing her role at the top of the order ahead of the Women’s World T20 in the Caribbean.
Wyatt made 69 T20I appearances before passing fifty but has now scored two centuries and three half-centuries in her last 13 innings, with a strike-rate of 160 during that period, and will be vital to her team’s hopes as they bid to win a second world title in as many years, and their first World T20 since 2009.
“I’ll thrive off that extra responsibility,” says Wyatt in the November issue of Wisden Cricket Monthly, out on October 25 and available to order here. “I’ve got the confidence now after my good last 12 months in an England shirt and those two T20 hundreds to keep in my memory bank.”
Having been at various points in her career a benchwarmer, kamikaze pinch-hitter, middle-order batter who bowls a bit and bowler who bats a bit, Wyatt was promoted to open during the T20 leg of last winter’s Ashes and smashed a 56-ball century at Canberra, the first by an England women’s player, to lead her side to a record run-chase of 181 and square the series.
In an innings where only one other batsman reached double figures, Wyatt hit 13 fours and two sixes to mark her arrival as an international cricketer, seven years after her debut.
“I never thought about getting a T20 hundred for England,” says the 27-year-old. “That just happened, it was surreal. I’d got a fifty in the first T20 of the Ashes at North Sydney Oval coming in at No.6, and considering the position we were in it was an important fifty. Then I got promoted to open in the next T20 and I think I got about 18 off 10 balls, which was a good start. And then I went on and got that blistering hundred in the third T20. It was more of a relief to get it, and show the world that I can actually score big runs on the big stage.”
Two matches later she hit 124 from 64 deliveries against India in Mumbai, falling two runs short of Meg Lanning’s record for the highest women’s T20I score. This time it didn’t come as a surprise to her.
“After that hundred in the Ashes I was like, ‘Right, come on let’s build on that’, and I remember saying to my dad when I was having a meal with him in Mumbai, ‘I’m going to get another hundred tomorrow, I just feel it’. Then I went and got 124.”
Wyatt says England’s coaching team of Mark Robinson and his assistant Ali Maiden have been influential in turning her career around after years of struggling to fulfil her potential with no settled role in the side.
“A big one for me is the belief – Mark Robinson and Ali both believe in me to go out there and do well for England. In the past I’ve probably not had that and I’ve played a role that’s unselfish for the team and been a pinch-hitter who goes out there and smashes it from ball one. But I’m better than that. A few people have said to me, ‘Come on, Dan, you’re so much better than that’, so I went away and worked hard on a few simple things, like hitting the ball straight.
“I know my game and what works for me, and if I’m good in the V then I’m going to keep hitting in the V – I’m going to hit straight over the bowler’s head and just keep smashing it. In both T20 hundreds I didn’t play one sweep shot apart from the slog sweep.”
The Women’s World T20 begins on November 9 with England starting their campaign against Sri Lanka in St Lucia on November 10.
Joining England and Sri Lanka in Group A are South Africa, Bangladesh and hosts West Indies, with the top two teams progressing to the semi-finals. Australia, New Zealand, India, Ireland and Pakistan are competing in Group B.