Three cups of flamboyance, five spoons of sprightliness and infinite dollops of youthful exuberance—all these ingredients, ably assisted by an affable disposition and her explosive stroke play have made England’s Danielle Wyatt a fan favourite as far as women’s cricket is concerned.
Had only her willow befriended ‘consistency’ a few years earlier, would she not have had to wait eight years since her debut to score her maiden international fifty, which came in the first T20 of the Women’s Ashes 2017. Having finally got the monkey off her back, Wyatt ventured to make up for the deprivation that her career had suffered during the years of her fling with inconsistency and made up for it in the best way possible by scoring two T20I hundreds over the course of the next twelve months.
Wyatt, who is going to be a vital cog in England’s wheel during the upcoming Women’s World T20, spoke her mind in a candid chat with cricfit.com Ritam Basu a few days ago on topics ranging across her formative years in the game, her famous ‘proposal’ to Virat Kohli on Twitter in 2014, England’s preparations for the grand tournament and the impact that franchise-based tournaments such as the KIA Super League have had in the evolution of women’s cricket.
Q: You must have been quite tomboyish since your childhood, for you were the only girl child playing cricket for your local side—the Whitmore Cricket Club…
Wyatt: I started playing the game when I was ten years old at Whitmore. I joined a net session with my elder brother one day and it began from there. The coaches felt that I was good and I enjoyed being around with the boys, so much so that everyone at the club started looking at me as a boy. It was my elder brother who looked after me at the nascent stage of my career, and then, he took a break from the game for a few years once I started getting better than him. Haha!
Q: When was the first time you felt that you could consider cricket as a career option?
Wyatt: I never thought I could earn a living by playing cricket. I was selected for the MCC Young Cricketers programme in 2011 and later, in 2014, the ECB central contracts came into place, which helped me earn money from the start of my international career.
Q: Any cricketer you emulated as a youngster, or still try to emulate?
Wyatt: Freddie Flintoff and Brett Lee were my heroes while growing up. I don’t know why, but I loved them! I always batted in the nets thinking that I was Fred.
Q: How are England’s preparations going for the forthcoming World T20?
Wyatt: Preparations are going well. We’ve been training hard as a group at Loughborough, working together on fitness, cricket and the psychological side of it. We are raring to go to the West Indies. We can’t wait for the competition to begin. Confidence is high and we’ll try to give our best, and hopefully come back home with the trophy.
Q: How has the KIA Super League contributed towards the growth of the English women’s team?
Wyatt: It’s a great tournament! The ECB did a great job by launching a competition of such high stature a couple of years ago. Playing with and against some of the best players in the world is only going to benefit myself and the rest of the players. That three new players have been picked for the World T20 squad after their performances in this year’s tournament shows that if you perform well in tournaments as this, you could earn yourself a national call-up.
Q: England is placed in Group-A alongside Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa and the hosts and defending champions—the West Indies for the World T20. Is it safe to bet on England to make the semi-finals from this group?
Wyatt: The standard of women’s cricket across the world has improved so much over the years that we can’t afford to take any opposition lightly. Each game is important and we’ll have to be at our best in every game. And the format being T20, anything can happen but we are confident that we can qualify for the knockouts.
Q: You have two hundreds to your name already in T20I cricket. Is this your favourite format?
Wyatt: Records suggest that, but I enjoy playing ODIs as well. In ODIs, I play a different role batting at six. In T20Is, on the other hand, I love opening the batting. It gives me the licence to go out there and play without any fear and hit boundaries. That’s when I am at my best, you know.
Q: Your association with India goes back a long way, for you made your ODI debut in this country, scored one of your two T20I hundreds in Mumbai this year, and had also proposed to the current Indian captain, Virat Kohli, four years back. Are you aware of the massive fan following that you enjoy in India?
Wyatt: Haha! The proposal was clearly a joke. I love India. It’s a beautiful country, the weather is good, the people are so friendly and I love the culture, especially the food. I love how passionate the Indians are about cricket. If I enjoy being in a country, it has a direct bearing on my game.
Wyatt: Yes, it would be absolutely great to have a Women’s IPL! I don’t know where it would fit in the international calendar though because we play a lot of international matches these days.
Q: The Women’s World T20 2018 will see the DRS (Decision Review System) being used in any ICC World T20 event for the first time. Is it a welcome development?
Wyatt: It’s a welcome initiative…[it] shows how far the women’s game has come.
Q: The last one. What do you think would you be doing on 24th November, 2018?
Wyatt: Lift the winners’ trophy and also the ‘Player of the Series’ trophy, I hope (guffaws)!