Danni Wyatt: England Women have licence to express ourselves and inspire a nation
'I've got to back myself to hit every ball for six'; Watch England Women on Sky Sports Cricket this summer
By Kalika Mehta
Last Updated: 08/06/18 9:51am
Danni Wyatt is all too familiar with the saying "good things come to those who wait".
Having made her debut in 2010 at the age of 20, the opening batter had strived away in over 100 matches for England without scoring a half-century.
Despite playing in the opening five group matches in last year's World Cup, including hitting a crucial 47 in the win against Australia, Wyatt was dropped as the hosts went on to lift the trophy.
Wyatt admits missing out on playing in the final affected her confidence but made her more determined to show her talents with the bat.
"It knocked my confidence but it made me go out and train harder," she explained. "Knowing that I was still in good nick and seeing the ball well, I felt I was unlucky.
"I was unfortunate that one of the girls wasn't bowling very well so they brought in another bowler and I was the one to step out.
"Getting dropped in the last few ODIs in the World Cup I did think 'Am I every going to play a one-day international again?'
"Everyone wants to play every game for England and to miss out on a World Cup final at Lord's, it was amazing to watch and be a part of it, but you want to be playing at the end of the day."
The Women's Ashes followed in November, and having not been picked for One-Day Internationals or the Test match the 27-year-old spent five weeks in Australia in the nets before donning an England shirt once more.
And, the Stoke-born batter grabbed her opportunity with both hands, scoring her first-ever England half-century in her 71st T20I.
Infused with a new lease of confidence, the opener strode out to the crease two matches later in Canberra with England facing a daunting task of setting a record if they were to chase down 179 for victory.
What followed was as unexpected as it was sensational, as Wyatt became the first-ever England Women's player to score a T20I century.
Unbeaten on 99 and seeing Ellyse Perry thrown the ball sent an added shot of nerves through Wyatt.
"I was absolutely bricking it," she quips. "I knew we were going to win the match once we got it down to five an over quite easily. I ended up looking at the scoreboard and saw I was on 99 and I was like 'Trev (Heather Knight), I'm on 99!'.
"Then they chucked the ball to Ellyse Perry and I was so nervous. She pitched it outside off and I literally hung my bat out and ran a single. It was the nicest feeling I've ever had playing cricket, it was special and I'll never forget it."
After waiting seven years to reach the much-vaunted milestone, Wyatt needed just two more innings to score her second hundred, smashing 124 off 64 balls against India in March.
This time her father was in attendance, with the Sussex player looking towards him with every boundary she hit.
And, Wyatt credits her transformation with the bat to having a specific role in the T20 side.
"I love opening the batting T20s, you've only got two fielders out and you've got to be brave from ball one," she said. "I play my best cricket when I'm playing attacking, brave, and with good intent from ball one.
"Having the belief from my coaches and teammates that I can actually go out there and destroy bowlers [has helped].
"In the past I have gone out there as a pinch-hitter who has just hit 20 off 15 balls, looked good and then thrown my wicket away.
"I'm very experienced now, I've been playing in the Women's Big Bash for three years, played 100-plus matches for England and it's nice to finally get a big score. I haven't looked back since I got my 100 in Canberra. Hopefully this is the start of many more runs to come."
While it would be easy to assume to the change in form with the bat has been a recent renovation, Wyatt explains it has been a long time coming.
Since head coach Mark Robinson and batting coach Ali Maiden took over in November 2015, many of the England players have expressed the positive impact they have had on the team.
Wyatt is no different, explaining that Robinson's experience with Sussex and the England Lions has proved invaluable to Women's national side.
Much like with the men's One-Day International side, Robinson and Maiden have implemented a change in the brand of cricket played by the women."I put a lot of my runs recently down to Mark Robinson and Ali Maiden," Wyatt says. "Robbo wants us all to go out there, back ourselves, back our ability; know we're all capable of match-winning performances.
"He's tried to calm us all down and make we go out there and back ourselves to the best of our ability. I've got to back myself to hit every ball for six, which I'm good at doing at the moment, and that's what Robbo judges us on.
"He judges us on our intent not the way we get out. The men's approach to the game is amazing and one that I believe in. Robbo follows that approach and he wants us to go out there and express ourselves and inspire a nation."
Not satisfied with being one of only two players to score two T20I centuries, alongside Deandra Dottin, Wyatt has set her sights high for the near future with the bat.
With upcoming ODI series against South Africa and New Zealand as well as a T20 tri-series, she is aware of tough opposition England are going to face.
"I want another T20I century," she says nonchalantly. "I've got one in Australia and one in India, now I want one in England!"
Watch England Women take on South Africa Women in the first one-day international live on Sky Sports Cricket this Saturday from 10.30am. England will open up with three ODIs against South Africa and conclude their summer with three against New Zealand, with a T20 tri-series to be contested in between.
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