Heather Knight column: England women 'can't wait to start new era'

Heather Knight

Malaysia is not somewhere you would usually associate with a cricket tour but, as Pakistan still play the majority of their games abroad, here we are in hot and humid Kuala Lumpur.

We start our one-day series against Pakistan on Monday at 01:30 GMT and a lot has changed since England women last took to the field.

We are due to have a new head coach starting soon and we have got an exciting group of young players looking to make their way in international cricket - there is a really good feeling among the group.

Pakistan are pushing to qualify automatically for the World Cup so these will be really big games - and a big test - but we are looking forward to it.

All change

There have been a few changes since the English summer, the most notable being the appointment of Lisa Keightley as our new head coach from January.

I was expecting to work with Lisa at London Spirit in The Hundred next summer, but I am delighted to get the chance to work with her much sooner and on a full-time basis.

She had a stint as the England Academy head coach and I got to know her reasonably well back then, as did a lot of the girls, so I am looking forward to working with her after she finishes up with Perth Scorchers in the Women's Big Bash League.

Lisa will join us out here for the back end of the trip but won't take charge officially until early next year. I think she is due to take part in our 'secret Santa' - so big pressure for whoever is buying for her!

England women
England women will play three ODIs and three T20s against Pakistan

Gingerbread houses and snowmen in a sweat box

Malaysia is a bit different to places we tour usually, but the conditions are very similar to what we would experience in the sub-continent, with the pitches being on the slow side.

It took a bit of adjustment for me, coming straight from playing the last round of WBBL games on the pitches in Perth.

The heat and humidity is quite similar to what it was like in Sri Lanka earlier this year and I have been losing about 1.5kg every training session. Unfortunately, I am a heavy sweater so that means numerous costume and glove changes and making sure I get as much fluid on board as possible.

With the warm weather it is a bit surreal seeing so many Christmas decorations everywhere, but it seems Malaysia is a big fan of the holidays.

The hotel we are staying in has about 15 Christmas trees, snowmen made from real snow (with a carrot for the nose, of course) and a snow-covered full-size house made from actual gingerbread. We are often quite tempted to take a tile or two but I don't think our strength and conditioning coach would be best pleased.

Although we have been welcomed brilliantly over here and we have really enjoyed our time in Malaysia, I would love to see all international cricket back in Pakistan one day and I hope the situation is deemed safe enough to have an England tour there in the future. It is certainly somewhere I would be keen to play.

Rising from the Ashes

The Ashes defeat by Australia this summer was a tough experience for us as a side and we have put in a lot of work as a group since then.

A little bit of how we are looking to work is us as players taking a little bit more ownership and responsibility, and we are looking forward to putting that into action on the field.

With eight of us coming straight to Malaysia from the Big Bash in Australia, it has been great to get everyone back together again. With the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia on the horizon in February, this tour is a big part of our preparation for that.

Pakistan are definitely an improved side since we last played them in a series - particularly in sub-continent-like conditions - and we will have to play well out here to be successful.

We have a bit of a new-look squad with a few new younger faces. Sarah Glenn is the only uncapped player and she is someone - alongside the likes of Freya Davies and Mady Villiers - who will be looking to replicate her Kia Super League performances in an England shirt.

Christmas dinner, birthdays and comedy grilling

As I said, it is odd having Christmas out here. But we are making up for it with a secret Santa and some plans to have a team Christmas dinner after the T20 series.

We have already had a little get-together in the shape of Anya Shrubsole's birthday. Anya is not a big fan of being the centre of attention so, while we had a cake and she blew out the candles, we were not allowed to sing happy birthday - that was the one rule.

A group of us headed out to a comedy club on a free evening. It was an open-mic night where locals and ex-pats got up on stage for three minutes and gave stand-up a go.

The standard was a bit of a mix, it's fair to say, but it was a very enjoyable evening. Despite our best efforts, we somehow ended up in the front row and luckily I managed to avoid being picked on too much. It is a shame because I was hoping to pick up some new sledges.

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