Women's T20 World Cup: England to meet South Africa in Perth

Heather Knight and Dane van Niekerk
Heather Knight's England meet Dane van Niekerk's South Africa in Perth on Sunday

England begin their bid to become double world champions when they take on South Africa in the Women's T20 World Cup in Perth on Sunday.

England won the 50-over World Cup on home soil in 2017 but have not won the T20 title since the inaugural competition in 2009.

They have reached the final three times since - in 2012, 2014 and 2018 - but lost to Australia on each occasion.

"We're ready to get going now - stop the talking, stop the training and get the World Cup kicking off," England captain Heather Knight told BBC Sport.

Australia, the heavy favourites for the title, were stunned in the opening game of the tournament by India.

"We were watching from afar. I think it shows this tournament is going to be a very good one," Knight said.

"Anyone can beat anyone. We saw in our warm-up loss to Sri Lanka that if you're not completely on it, you can get found out in international conditions.

"It was a little reminder for us that we're really going to have to be on top of our game to win those key matches."

Play begins at 11:00 GMT at the Waca, with commentary available on Test Match Special.

England ready for 'cut-throat' tournament

England have a good record against South Africa, having won 15 of their 18 T20 matches against the Proteas.

However, South Africa have a strong batting line-up, and Shabnim Ismail is one of the quickest bowlers in women's cricket.

Head coach Lisa Keightley believes the strength in depth across all 10 teams will make this the most competitive World Cup yet.

"When I played, there was probably four teams, and the others were well behind," Keightley told Test Match Special.

"You could have a bad day and still win. With this World Cup, there's definitely more than four teams vying for those semis.

"Now, if you have a bad day, you'll lose. It's definitely more cut-throat."

Who is the Australian leading England's charge?

Lisa Keightley
Lisa Keightley is the first woman to take charge of the England women's team in the modern era

This is the first time Keightley will lead England in a major tournament, after replacing Mark Robinson as head coach in October.

A former Australia international, she coached Perth Scorchers to back-to-back Women's Big Bash League finals in 2017 and 2018.

Keightley cuts a relaxed figure and she has said she takes an interest in her charges as people, not just as cricketers.

"So far, she's been more about how we approach things and how we want to be on the pitch," said England all-rounder Natalie Sciver, who played under Keightley at the Scorchers.

"I've gone to the Big Bash four out of five years and being an overseas is different - I guess the coaches don't want to step on the toes of our coaches at home.

"But Lisa managed it pretty well. It was just about how I was feeling within the group. Not necessarily technical things, but mindset, which worked really well."

England bowler Anya Shrubsole said the tournament was a "nice, big World Cup to start her off with".

"There's a serious side to what we're doing so it's about getting that balance right," Shubsole added.

"Enjoying what we're doing and enjoying each other's company is something she really encourages."

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