England women's news May 4, 2017

Knight injury hits Women's World Cup preparations

ESPNcricinfo staff

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England happy to be underdogs for home World Cup

England have suffered a blow ahead of the Women's World Cup with the news that their captain, Heather Knight, has suffered a stress fracture in her left foot and is expected to be out for five-to-six weeks.

Knight should be fit to return for the tournament, which starts in seven weeks' time on June 24 with England against India, but the injury could hamper her preparations. She will wear a protective boot for the first stage of her recovery, before returning to light training, with a goal of being ready for England's World Cup warm-up match against Sri Lanka on June 19.

England have been focused on this tournament since Knight was appointed as Charlotte Edwards' replacement at the start of last summer. Speaking at the unveiling of England's new kits on Tuesday, she was excited about the challenge of trying to win a global trophy for the first time since the 2009 Women's World T20.

'It's been a long time coming, but it's going to come round pretty quick now, and what a summer it's hopefully going to be,' Knight said. 'There's nothing better than a home World Cup and being able to captain in it, so as a team we are pretty excited.'

Knight and the coach, Mark Robinson, have enjoyed a successful 12 months, with four limited-overs series wins from four, and England will go into the Women's World Cup ranked as the No. 2 ODI side in the world, behind reigning champions, Australia.

Heather Knight has led England to four series wins from four since being appointed captain © Getty Images

England's recent record in global tournaments has not been impressive, despite the advent of professionalism in 2014, and Robinson has suggested they still have improvements to make. The injury to Knight - whose all-round importance is emphasised by her averaging 38.75 with the bat and 19.00 with the ball as captain - is particularly unwelcome ahead of a competition she believes will be the 'most scrutinised ever' for the women's game

'It's a massive opportunity for women's cricket to put the sport out there and show how far the game's come, and I think it's going to be the most publicized and scrutinised World Cup ever,' she said.

'As a team we are in a good place for that. It's going to be slightly alien I think, the things we'll come across, but we've worked hard in the last year to be ready for that added pressure and expectation, but that's a good thing for our sport.'

A positive for England in recent days has been the return to action of Sarah Taylor, after almost a year away from the game, and Knight was encouraged by her progress and potential World Cup availability.

'She's done massively well to make that trip to Abu Dhabi and was involved in a lot more than we thought she would be. Seeing her back on a cricket pitch was really brilliant. She would still walk into any team in the world and we'd love to have her. She's taking it one step at a time. The signs are positive, and we'll see how it goes leading up to the World Cup

'It's brilliant that it is becoming easier to talk about [mental health], it's made it a lot easier for a number of people. To see Sarah addressing those issues is good to see, it puts cricket in perspective a little bit. Mental health, and health in general, is a lot more important.'