Sophia Dunkley earns England recall for New Zealand ODIs

Sophia Dunkley has earned a return to England’s ODI squad for the upcoming home series with New Zealand after losing her place in the top order over the winter against the same opponents.

Dunkley was added to the 50-over squad for the last two games of England’s three-match series with Pakistan last month, but didn’t play in either – she was named 12th for the second fixture in Taunton, which was washed out after 6.5 overs.

That followed a run of strong performances for South East Stars in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, where she is the competition’s leading run-scorer with 293 runs at 97.66 and a strike rate of 83.00, with a century and a fifty to her name. That competition will resume at the end of June, meanwhile, Dunkley scored two half-centuries last week for Stars in the Charlotte Edwards Cup T20 competition.

Jon Lewis, England Women’s head coach, said of his 14-strong squad named on Friday: “We have named the same squad who finished the recent series against Pakistan. I felt we played some solid 50-over cricket in that series and have had excellent results over the past 18 months.

“We welcomed Sophia Dunkley back into the squad at the end of the Pakistan series as her performance across the domestic game has been outstanding and she earned the right to be back in this squad through performance.”

Lewis had challenged Dunkley to rediscover “her best cricket” and said she remained in the conversation for selection ahead of the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in October having lost her spot after three T20I and one ODI innings in New Zealand, during which she failed to reach double-figures.

In five ODI innings since scoring 57 on England’s tour of West Indies in December 2022, Dunkley has not passed 13 and, in nine T20I innings since scoring a half-century against Australia in Birmingham last July, she has not passed 32.

She faces stern competition to regain a regular berth in the upper order from the likes of Tammy Beaumont, Maia Bouchier, Danni Wyatt and Alice Capsey, although England’s Nat Sciver-Brunt was the only stand-out performer in the ODIs against Pakistan, which England won 2-0. Sciver-Brunt scored an unbeaten 124 in the third game but no other player reached fifty during the series.

Similarly in three T20Is against Pakistan, only Wyatt’s 48-ball 87 was truly eye-catching amid some handy contributions from captain Heather Knight and, further down the order, Dani Gibson and Amy Jones.

Kate Cross and Lauren Bell will spearhead England’s seam attack, which also includes exciting quick Lauren Filer, against the White Ferns. Lewis recently told ESPNcricinfo’s Powerplay podcast of his desire to play all three England spinners – Sophie Ecclestone, Sarah Glenn and Charlie Dean – where possible and all three have been named for the ODI series with New Zealand.

During their tour of New Zealand earlier this year, England won the T20I series 4-1 and the ODIs 2-1. England are yet to name their T20I squad for a five-match series with New Zealand immediately after the ODIs, which will be played in Durham on June 26, Worcester on June 30 and Bristol on July 3.

The White Ferns will be without injured pace bowler Rosemary Mair and seamer Lea Tahuhu, who will link up with the T20I squad after the birth of her second child.

England ODI squad: Heather Knight (capt), Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Bell, Maia Bouchier, Alice Capsey, Kate Cross, Charlie Dean, Sophia Dunkley, Sophie Ecclestone, Lauren Filer, Sarah Glenn, Amy Jones, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Danielle Wyatt