Women’s Cricket World Cup: England captain Heather Knight spurred on by 2017 semi-final memories ahead of South Africa clash | Cricket News

England beat South Africa with two balls to spare at the same stage of the 2017 World Cup, but also lost to the Proteas in the final over of the group-stage game of this year’s tournament; watch the semi-final live on Sky Sports from 2am on Thursday

Last Updated: 28/03/22 11:47am

Heather Knight hopes to avoid another close finish when England face South Africa in the World Cup semi-finals

Heather Knight hopes to avoid another close finish when England face South Africa in the World Cup semi-finals

Heather Knight is hoping to avoid another nail-biting finish when England take on South Africa in the semi-finals of the Women’s Cricket World Cup on Thursday.

The last-four clash in Christchurch is a repeat of the 2017 semi at the County Ground in Bristol, where England squeezed home with two balls to spare for a two-wicket win.

Another win over the Proteas would put reigning champions England into the final again, but captain Knight wants to ensure they get the job done without it going down to the wire – something which has been a recurring theme in matches throughout this year’s tournament in New Zealand.

“If it’s anything like the other games in this tournament, it will be,” Knight said. “They’re a quality team, they’ve played some really good cricket this tournament and they had a remarkable win against India.

“They’re going to be really tough to beat, I think we’re going to have to bring our best cricket and we’d love to have the same result as 2017.

“It would be a little bit nicer if it wasn’t as close because it’s one of the most nerve-wracking games of cricket I’ve had, to make a home World Cup final.

“So, hopefully it will be not a thriller but I’m sure there will be some twists and turns there.”

Highlights of the Women's Cricket World Cup Quarter Final match between England and Bangladesh.

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Highlights of the Women’s Cricket World Cup Quarter Final match between England and Bangladesh.

Highlights of the Women’s Cricket World Cup Quarter Final match between England and Bangladesh.

Knight is aiming to gain a measure of revenge over South Africa for the group-stage defeat they inflicted on England two weeks ago, where 77 from Laura Wolvaardt set them on course to chase down a target of 236 in the final over.

Wolvaardt, the leading run-scorer at the this year’s World Cup, was among the players England dropped catches off in the field as they slumped to a third-straight loss in the match at Mount Maunganui.

Since then though, the holders have revitalised their campaign and won four on the bounce to book a semi-final spot, with Knight impressed by how the squad responded to those setbacks and addressed the mistakes which were proving costly.

“It’s been not panicking,” Knight said. “Obviously we were very disappointed and frustrated with how things had gone but realising there was still a good chance of us qualifying was important.

Sophie Ecclestone believes England play their best cricket under pressure after beating Bangladesh to progress to the semi-finals.

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Sophie Ecclestone believes England play their best cricket under pressure after beating Bangladesh to progress to the semi-finals.

Sophie Ecclestone believes England play their best cricket under pressure after beating Bangladesh to progress to the semi-finals.

“Also, realising there were a lot of things which hadn’t gone our way in those close games were things under our control. Trying to work out a way to improve those things, trying to get individuals in a slightly better place and keep things pretty positive, and try to take one game at a time.

“It’s been pretty successful, and obviously just getting back into the habit of winning has been quite important for us as well.

“After a tough Ashes series, we’d kind of got out of the habit of winning and what it takes for us to get over the line in those tight games. Luckily, we managed to get that back at the key time and go on a run in the last few games.”

Victory over South Africa would see England through to face either the West Indies or old rivals Australia – the other two teams to have beaten Knight’s side in this tournament – in the final on Sunday.

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Knight and her players go into the knockout stages with nothing to fear though and the 31-year-old is delighted with the position England find themselves in after a tough start to the World Cup.

“If you’d given me this situation two weeks ago, I’d have bitten your hand off,” Knight said. “It’s been a remarkable turnaround and credit to everyone in the group.

“I think it shows the character we’ve got in this group to pick ourselves up after a pretty poor start and qualify.

“I feel like we’re peaking at the right time, hopefully, and looking forward to getting going on Thursday.”


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