England v South Africa: Heather Knight says hosts 'fighting' for Test cricket

England women
England have not won any of their five Tests since beating Australia in 2014
LV Women's Test: England v South Africa
Venue: Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton Date: 27-30 June
Coverage: Test Match Special commentary, in-play clips and live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

England feel like they are "fighting" for the survival of women's Tests, says captain Heather Knight.

International Cricket Council chairman Greg Barclay said this month he does not see women's Test cricket as "part of the landscape moving forward".

England meet South Africa in a one-off Test at Taunton starting on Monday.

"If there's a slightly more attritional section of play - as there is in men's Test cricket - we are judged slightly different," Knight told BBC Sport.

"The debate starts to go 'should women be playing Test cricket?' and we certainly feel that way. We are going to try to entertain and come away with a victory.

"It honestly feels like every time we play a Test match we are fighting for the format a little bit."

Last week England coach Lisa Keightley said Barclay's comments were "disappointing".

England's most recent Test, against Australia in January, resulted in a thrilling draw that went down to the final ball.

However, only England, Australia, India and South Africa have played women's Tests in the past eight years.

The last team outside those four to play a Test was the Netherlands 15 years ago.

England and South Africa have not met since 2003.

Life after Brunt and Shrubsole

England are without two key players from the past decade in Anya Shrubsole and Katherine Brunt.

Shrubsole retired from international cricket in April, while Brunt quit Test cricket this month.

"They will leave a massive hole. It will be strange not being able to throw them the ball and have a chat to either of them," Knight said.

"They will be missed but it's exciting to see who will step up."

Issy Wong
Wong took six wickets in eight games for Birmingham Phoenix in the Hundred last summer

The uncapped Issy Wong was added to the England squad after fellow pace bowler Emily Arlott failed to recover fully from Covid-19 in time for the Test.

Twenty-year-old Wong, who has been tipped to break the 80mph mark, is one of five uncapped players in the squad.

"We are trying to pick an attack that will take 20 wickets and there is some exciting talent there," Knight said.

"They won't have played much long-format cricket, so hopefully I can direct them to the ebbs and flows of a Test match.

"Certainly those young seamers, including Wongy, will come into the reckoning. Seeing them let loose, charging in, and trying to take some poles is really exciting."

Injury-hit South Africa

South Africa will be without seamer Shabnim Ismail, the number two one-day bowler in the world, because of a calf injury as they play their first Test since 2014.

All-rounder Chloe Tyron is absent with a hip problem and seamer Ayabonga Khaka - fifth in the one-day international bowling rankings - is not available in the Test format.

Regular skipper Dane van Niekerk, who has been absent since January with an ankle injury, is still unavailable, while Mignon du Preez retired from Test and ODIs after the World Cup.

Sune Luus will captain South Africa, with the experienced Marizanne Kapp spearheading their bowling attack.

"It's a bit of a shame - it's their first Test match in a long time and I know a few of those players were desperate to go out there and play," Knight said.

"I was trying to work out how many debutants they are going to have. We are going to have a few ourselves.

"South Africa will be excited. Speaking with a few of their girls in various competitions, they are excited seeing this in the calendar."

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