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    Appointing Knight to advise Somerset board a masterstroke, says Lewis
Appointing Knight to advise Somerset board a masterstroke, says Lewis
Heather Knight bats at the ECB's launch of a national tape-ball competition in Birmingham. Source: ECB/Getty Images

Appointing Knight to advise Somerset board a masterstroke, says Lewis

Somerset has played a blinder by appointing England captain Heather Knight to an advisory role on their board as they build a team to compete in the top tier of the new domestic women's competition next year.

That is the view of England Women's head coach Jon Lewis, who said he had briefly discussed the role with Knight before Somerset announced this week that she would join their board to advise on cricket matters.

Somerset, Durham and Essex will join Surrey, Hampshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire in Stage 1 of the new women's domestic competition in England and Wales from next season following their successful applications to the ECB. A further two teams - Yorkshire and Glamorgan - will join them by 2027.

Lewis said on Friday, with Knight back in charge of England's squad for the T20I and ODI series against Pakistan starting on May 11:

"Somerset has made a really smart decision in getting someone involved in their board who's got a real intrinsic knowledge of women's cricket. [She] will really help them set up a new team, which I think will be a challenge for Somerset - a really, really big challenge for Somerset, Essex, and Durham, the teams that have got new teams.”

Outgoing Somerset chief executive Gordon Hollins said that while Knight's role would not be limited to women's cricket, the timing of her appointment was critical as the club prepared to field a team at the highest level of the new competition.

Currently, Somerset, Glamorgan and Gloucestershire act as feeder clubs for Western Storm in the regional 50-over Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and 20-over Charlotte Edwards Cup.

With the regional system due to be disbanded after this summer, many players will face the prospect of moving to different cities to play at the highest level, or playing in the lower tiers of the new competition.

Knight was well aware of the challenges facing these players when the successful Tier 1 bids were announced, saying that the prospect of having to move from Leeds to Durham, for example, had caused "quite an unsettling time" for some of the Yorkshire-based players at Northern Diamonds.

Meanwhile, Bess Heath could find herself wearing the wicketkeeping gloves more often for Northern Diamonds after being tipped to replace Amy Jones in the England set-up.

Lewis said he was concerned that former England batsman Lauren Winfield-Hill had been preferred behind the stumps in the opening four matches of this year's RHFT, with Heath playing as a specialist batsman in the three matches for which she was available, and that Heath had discussed the matter with Diamonds head coach Dani Hazell.

Heath's importance as England's back-up keeper has been underlined after Tammy Beaumont, who could be called upon in an emergency, was overlooked for the T20I squad that faces Pakistan in Birmingham in a week's time.

Heath, 22, made her international debut in the third ODI against Sri Lanka at Grace Road last September and played a T20I in India in December and three T20Is on England's recent tour of New Zealand.

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