ICC Women's Cricket World Cup 2022
England park Ashes demons ahead of World Cup rematch
After being thrashed 3-0 in the Ashes ODIs, England are looking to get one back on Australia in their World Cup opener
Laura Jolly in Christchurch
26 February 2022, 08:06 PM AEST
Heather Knight says England have 'parked' their winless Ashes campaign but admits they will have a point to prove when they meet Australia once again in their opening World Cup match next week.
But the England captain has deflected suggestions from Meg Lanning that Knight's side would head into the tournament as favourites given their status as defending champions, and the attention back on the world's No.1 ranked team.
"We've got Australia first and it's clear we've got a bit of a point to prove as a side," Knight said from Christchurch after their winless Ashes series earlier in the summer.
"It wasn't the tour that we wanted, it didn't quite turn out how we wanted, particularly how we finished (losing the ODIs 3-0).
"I think particularly in those final two games, there was a bit of mental and probably physical fatigue from the side."
England started the multi-format series in a promising note by posting 4-169 in the opening T20I at Adelaide Oval, but their rivals reeled in the target with ease.
Two washed out 20-over games caused frustration, and their charge towards victory in the one-off Test was snatched away when they lost 6-27 in the final hour.
Australia then defended 205 to retain the Ashes with two ODIs to spare, before England's tour ended with a whimper with two heavy defeats in Melbourne.
"It's not a true representation of where we're at as a side and who we are," Knight continued.
"I think we showed at times in the Ashes that when we do go toe-to-toe with them, we can be successful. We just probably lacked that killer instinct a little bit.
"We haven't become a bad side overnight, we're still a very good team."
England made the most of their early release from hotel quarantine, spending a week of downtime in Queenstown before returning to Christchurch ahead of Monday's first warm-up match against Bangladesh.
"(That) has actually been lovely, a chance to switch off and do a few outdoorsy things away from cricket and gather headspace," Knight said.
"It's been really important to get the time away from cricket to digest what went on in the Ashes and also to park it a little bit."
While Knight was happy to cede favouritism status to Australia, she said the memories of her side's triumphant campaign on home soil in 2017, when they defeated India in the final at Lord's, would stand them in good stead in their title defence.
"Five years is quite a long time and Australia have been the outstanding team within that period," she said.
"So rightfully, I think they deserve that favourites tag. But I certainly believe as a side on our day we can beat them.
"We were chatting about it the other day actually, remembering how imperfect (the 2017 World Cup) was, and how you have the highs and the lows of a competition and how you always forget that because we won the competition.
"World Cups are so different from a multi-format series like an Ashes, you're playing a different team every (match), you're travelling around and you face different challenges ... going into a global tournament will help us."
England will also meet South Africa in a warm-up match ahead of Saturday's showdown with Australia in Hamilton.
The biggest question they need to answer across the practice games is who will open the batting alongside Tammy Beaumont.
Danni Wyatt and Amy Jones have been used in the position in recent years, while Lauren Winfield-Hill was the preferred option throughout 2021.
But Winfield-Hill, who has not passed fifty in an international game since 2016, was omitted from the final Ashes ODI in favour of Emma Lamb, whose trial at the top of the order lasted all of two balls before she was bowled by Ellyse Perry.
"We haven't quite nailed that spot yet," Knight said.
"It's never ideal, not being totally sure on your batting line-up leading into World Cup, but that's the position we've been in and we've got a few options.
"The two warm-up games will be a chance for whoever we decide to go with to try and cement their spot and really get some form going into the tournament.
"In terms of the side, getting the balance right is going to be the key. We've played around a little bit with seven batters and five bowlers, or six batters and the extra bowler … (now we need to be) really clear on when we want to use the different balances of the side on different wickets throughout the tournament.
"That's something we want to get ticked off and really clear in our mind as a selection committee."
ICC Women's Cricket World Cup 2022
Australia squad: Meg Lanning (c), Rachael Haynes (vc), Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Grace Harris, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Beth Mooney, Tahlia McGrath, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Amanda-Jade Wellington. Travelling reserves: Heather Graham, Georgia Redmayne
Australia's World Cup 2022 fixtures
Mar 30: Basin Reserve, Wellington, 8am AEDT
Mar 31: Hagley Park Christchurch, 12pm AEDT
Apr 3: Hagley Park Christchurch, 11am AEDT
All matches to be broadcast in Australia on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports