Royal Challengers Bangalore faced a significant setback with the withdrawal of their English recruit, Heather Knight. The England skipper pulls out of the upcoming second season of the Women’s Premier League (WPL). The tournament is set to commence on February 23. Knight’s decision raised eyebrows, as no specific reason was provided by the Bengaluru-based franchise for her sudden departure.
Being the captain of England’s women’s team, Knight’s dilemma echoed a broader concern among English cricketers’ participation in the WPL. The scheduling conflict arises as committing to the latter stages of the T20 league might result in these players missing England’s crucial five-match T20I series in New Zealand. The WPL final, slated for March 17, clashes with England’s first T20I against New Zealand, scheduled for March 19 in Dunedin.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) introduced a critical directive to players participating in the WPL, emphasising that those who stay in India till the end of the T20 league will not be considered for the first three T20Is in New Zealand. The ECB is expected to unveil the England squad next week, adding a layer of complexity to the players’ decisions.
RCB names a replacement for Heather Knight!
In response to Knight’s withdrawal, RCB swiftly named South African all-rounder Nadine de Klerk as her replacement. The WPL, in a statement, confirmed this development, stating, “England captain Heather Knight has pulled out of the upcoming season of the Women’s Premier League 2024. The Royal Challengers Bangalore have named Nadine de Klerk as her replacement.”
Nadine de Klerk, a medium-fast bowler and right-handed batter, boasts a substantial international record, having featured in 30 ODIs and 46 T20Is for South Africa. However, besides Knight, several other prominent players, including Alice Capsey, Issy Wong, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Kate Cross, Sophie Ecclestone, and Danni Wyatt, are set to feature in the WPL 2024.
Earlier, Lauren Bell, who was slated to play for UP Warriorz, had withdrawn from the WPL on Friday, prioritizing her preparation for the upcoming tour of New Zealand. The challenges posed by conflicting schedules and national team commitments underscore the complex decisions faced by players in the dynamic world of women’s cricket.