Refreshed England excited for ‘great opportunity’ at Commonwealth Games, says Sophia Dunkley

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Refreshed England excited for ‘great opportunity’ at Commonwealth Games, says Sophia Dunkley
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A fresh, exciting England team arrive at the Commonwealth Games in the perfect frame of mind, according to batter Sophia Dunkley.

England have been refreshed this summer by debuts for 17-year-olds Alice Capsey and Freya Kemp, and tweaks such as Dunkley’s promotion to open the batting — an aggressive move.

Even with the likes of veteran Katherine Brunt — who made her debut the year before Kemp was born — it has had the feel of a new era, and they got the perfect result to kickstart it, winning all six white-ball matches in the multi-format series against South Africa.

Commonwealth Games 2022: Best Pictures

England’s Alex Yee celebrates after winning the Men’ Individual (Sprint Distance) Final at Sutton Park (PA)
England’s Alex Yee celebrates after winning the Men’ Individual (Sprint Distance) Final at Sutton Park (PA)
Lesotho’s Qhobosheane Mohlerepe (right)  and Cyprus’ Odysseas Atmatzidis during the Men’s Over 60kg-63.5kg (Light Welter) - Round of 32 at The NEC on day one of 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. (PA)
Lesotho’s Qhobosheane Mohlerepe (right) and Cyprus’ Odysseas Atmatzidis during the Men’s Over 60kg-63.5kg (Light Welter) - Round of 32 at The NEC on day one of 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. (PA)
England’s Adam Peaty trains at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre in Birmingham, on the day before the swimming competition begins at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham (AFP via Getty Images)
England’s Adam Peaty trains at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre in Birmingham, on the day before the swimming competition begins at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham (AFP via Getty Images)
Grace Crompton of Team England breaks past Anusha Attanayaka of Team Sri Lanka to score a try during the Women’s Rugby Sevens Pool A match between Team England and Team Sri Lanka on day one of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games (Getty Images)
Grace Crompton of Team England breaks past Anusha Attanayaka of Team Sri Lanka to score a try during the Women’s Rugby Sevens Pool A match between Team England and Team Sri Lanka on day one of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games (Getty Images)
South Africa’s Muhammad Khaalid Mia rotation Parallel Bars of the Men’s Team Final and Individual Qualification, Subdivision One at Arena Birmingham on day one of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham (PA)
South Africa’s Muhammad Khaalid Mia rotation Parallel Bars of the Men’s Team Final and Individual Qualification, Subdivision One at Arena Birmingham on day one of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham (PA)
England’s Tom Bowen in action with Samoa’s Steve Onosai (REUTERS)
England’s Tom Bowen in action with Samoa’s Steve Onosai (REUTERS)
Fireworks explode above the the Alexander Stadium during the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games (AFP via Getty Images)
Fireworks explode above the the Alexander Stadium during the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games (AFP via Getty Images)
Athletes of Team England take part during the Opening Ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Alexander Stadium (Getty Images)
Athletes of Team England take part during the Opening Ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at Alexander Stadium (Getty Images)
Athletes gather round The Bull during the opening ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham (PA)
Athletes gather round The Bull during the opening ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham (PA)
Team England in action during qualifying (REUTERS)
Team England in action during qualifying (REUTERS)
Singapore’s Tianwei Feng in action during her team group stage match against England’s Tin-Tin Ho (REUTERS)
Singapore’s Tianwei Feng in action during her team group stage match against England’s Tin-Tin Ho (REUTERS)

Londoner Dunkley is being handed more responsibility, and is thriving. She is having a strong summer, including a maiden international hundred from No3 in the ODI team, plus two other fifties. After the Commonwealth Games comes the Hundred.

“There is a real buzz around the group and we are loving it,” Dunkley tells Standard Sport.

England’s female cricketers at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Birmingham (Getty Images)
England’s female cricketers at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Birmingham (Getty Images)

“As a team we feel like we are growing and getting better. There are new players about, and some different roles. I’m pretty excited to be opening and in the game straight away.”

Cricket returns to the Commonwealth Games for the first time since 1998. In Kuala Lumpur, 16 men’s teams competed in 50-over cricket, and South Africa won. This time it is the women, and the T20 format. Eight teams are split into two pools, with all games played at Edgbaston.

The tournament proper starts today (there has been a qualifying event), with the favourites Australia taking on India, then Barbados play Pakistan. Tomorrow, New Zealand meet South Africa, then England take on Sri Lanka.

Dunkley says the prospect of winning medals in a multi-sport event is a rare thrill for cricketers, making them feel like they are a part of something bigger than their game.

“It’s something the girls have been looking at for a long time and all wanting to be involved in,” she says. “It’s a step into the unknown, with different kit, in a city full of excitement for the big event. We get to play at Edgbaston which is fun.

“It’s a massive time in the women’s game and this is a great opportunity to showcase how fast the game is moving.”

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