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“If the opportunity arises it’s one I would be massively excited for and what I want to do”

Lauren Winfield-Hill has admitted to losing her way as a batter while “trying to be a good team person” and is targeting a return to opening for England in ODI cricket in their upcoming one-day series against India.

Winfield-Hill was restored to the Test team last week, putting on a 69-run opening stand alongside Tammy Beaumont as England laid a strong foundation in the one-off match at Bristol. Her partnership with Beaumont was a feature of England’s 2017 World Cup success, but Winfield-Hill has not opened in ODIs since the Ashes tour later that year, with Amy Jones and Danni Wyatt given chances at the top of the order.

In that period, Winfield-Hill found herself filling in at No. 3 and even batting in the lower-middle order for the T20 side. But having been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2019, she has been rejuvenated by starting a new course of medication and retains ambitions of returning to her preferred spot ahead of England’s 50-over title defence in New Zealand next year.

“Yeah, I can’t hide from that, I’m pretty keen [to open],” she said. “It’s no secret I sort of lost my way in the last couple of years with trying to be a good team person and playing lots of roles but not do any of them particularly well, and not be true to myself in what I want to do and where I want to be. The last year or so I’ve gone back to what’s familiar and tried to do that as well as I can, and that’s opening the batting. So if that opportunity arises it’s one I would be massively excited for and what I want to do.”

Winfield-Hill’s best year in international cricket came in 2016, when she and Beaumont were united at the top of the order. In only their second innings as an opening pair, they both raised aggressive hundreds during a 235-run stand against Pakistan, setting the tone for England under Heather Knight’s captaincy; but despite Winfield-Hill making three half-centuries in her next eight innings, she has not passed 50 since.
After her struggles with Crohn’s, which led Winfield-Hill to consider giving up on international cricket, she began the 2021 summer in good form, making 140 for England Women A in a pre-season warm-up game and then kicking off the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy with another century for Yorkshire Diamonds. Although she said the subject of opening was “not a conversation that we’ve had so far”, she was hopeful of winning the nod from Knight and head coach Lisa Keightley.

“I’ve scored big runs. When I’ve got in I’ve gone big, which is probably the most consistently I’ve been able to produce big scores – I’ve had a couple of decent hundreds this year, which is something we speak about as a batting group: ‘When you’re getting in, go big.’ So it’s probably the ability I’ve shown to do that. We all know in ODI cricket especially, if you’re getting players scoring decent hundreds that’s going to put the team in a really good position. That’s probably what I guess has been encouraging for Heather and the reason she wanted to go with me in the Test.”

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