Kate Cross calls for red-ball domestic cricket as England Women return to Test match action
"I think the longer format is where you learn the real skill of cricket," says England seamer Kate Cross; England Women begin their international summer with a Test match against India at Bristol on June 16, live on Sky Sports Cricket
By Josh Gorton
Last Updated: 14/06/21 6:00pm
England seamer Kate Cross insists she would be a 'big advocate' for the introduction of red-ball cricket at domestic level, as she eyes a Test match return in Bristol this week.
Cross's most recent Test match appearance came six years ago during the 2015 Ashes, but she's earned a recall to the squad following her impressive form for Lancashire-based Thunder in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.
The 29-year-old claimed six wickets in Thunder's opening two matches, while also producing a terrific knock of 43 to guide her side to victory over Sunrisers last month.
Cross is one of several seamers named in the 15-player squad for this week's clash, as the decorated duo of Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole are joined by Tash Farrant and the uncapped Emily Arlott.
"I'm not going to say it's exciting because it's not; it is always a worry when you have got people working hard to take your spot, but it's great for the team, it is great for our environment," Cross told the ECB.
"I think it just goes to show how important those regional contracts are now. It was sometimes difficult to move from county cricket to international cricket, whereas now I feel that transition is a lot easier.
"I think it just goes to show the depth we've got in the country, we've got a lot of people knocking on the door which is really nice."
England begin their international summer with their four-day Test against India, which gets underway on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports Cricket.
This will be followed by three ODIs and a three-match T20 series, and while Cross remains an integral part of England's white-ball side, she admits the opportunity to feature in red-ball cricket will be a 'special' moment.
"It doesn't come round often for us, it's always special when it does. We all get really excited when the whites come out, so we're just looking forward to getting going on Wednesday now," Cross added.
"Obviously it is very different to the white-ball game, but I think it's something we really enjoy when we get the opportunity to do it, and we try to embrace it as much as possible, because we know we've only got one opportunity to play a Test match this summer.
"We still want it to be a good spectacle for people to watch so everyone buys into it and we enjoy it. We just wish we could play a bit more of it."
Despite the indisputable growth within the women's game over recent years, England and Australia are two of just four nations to have featured in a Test match since 2007, while India's last red-ball outing came back in November 2014.
"I think the longer format is where you learn the real skill of cricket; how to defend good bowling, how to bowl for longer periods of time and be relentless on hitting line and length."
Cross on importance of red-ball cricket...
India - led by the indomitable Mithali Raj - triumphed by six wickets when the sides last met in Test cricket in 2014, with Cross taking six wickets. However, with India also set to face Australia in a one-off Test in September, the signs are positive.
"I think it's great when any nation gets on board with playing women's Test cricket. We're not quiet about the fact that we do want to play more of it and hopefully those opportunities are going to come around more," she added.
Cross has not featured in the Test match arena for six years, although England have only played two red-ball matches since then, and she insists increased opportunity will lead to a better spectacle.
"We actually do a lot of our learning in four-day cricket whilst we play it. I think if we played a little bit more of it, whether that's at domestic level or we played more international Test cricket, then it would naturally be a better game because we're more used to the format.
"I'm a big advocate for that [red-ball at domestic level]. I think the longer format is where you learn the real skill of cricket; how to defend good bowling, how to bowl for longer periods of time, and be relentless on hitting line and length.
"I think in the next five years we might get to the point where we can do that. Obviously it is really important in the next 12 months that we establish what we've got now with the 50-over competition and the T20, and obviously that will be taken into The Hundred as well.
"I don't think there's any harm in doing it. I'm quite positive about the fact that could potentially happen."
This week's Test match - England's first since 2019 - marks the start of a hectic period at both international and domestic level.
The white-ball contests against India will be followed by the inaugural staging of the women's Hundred, before England host New Zealand in three T20s and five one-day-internationals.
Heather Knight's side will then tour Pakistan in October, before the 2021 Ashes is followed by the 2022 World Cup - scheduled to take place in New Zealand next March.
"It is a big year for everyone I think. I've always said that's the way we should have the women's game, playing more. I've always said our ratio of training to playing has been quite heavily weighted towards the training side," Cross continued.
"It's nice that we have actually got a lot of cricket to play and a lot of cricket to look forward to. I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully some opportunities come up and I get the opportunity to put my hand up and help the team win some games."
Watch the Test between England Women and India Women live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.30am on Wednesday, June 16.