England coach Mark Robinson expects this year’s Women’s World Cup to be the best ever and has backed his side to make an impact on home soil.
England have not won a global trophy since completing the World Cup and World T20 double in 2009 and Robinson was brought in 18 months ago to put that right.
The former Sussex coach took the team to the semi-finals of the 2015 T20 in Bangladesh, his first experience of tournament cricket, but has since overseen a changing of the guard, replacing long-serving captain Charlotte Edwards with Heather Knight and building towards this summer’s jamboree on home soil.
He expects more challengers, and more quality players, than ever before in the eight-team field and is eager to face the task head on.
“The women’s game has had such good investment and the speed of change is enormous,” he said on the day that the fixture list was announced.
“I think you’re going to see the best quality you’ve ever seen. There are some outstanding players and no easy games anymore. I think there used to be to a degree but not any more.
“That’s good for women’s cricket. It’s not as easy for the coaches but really it’s what we crave.
“We need games that are tough, we need to lose some games because that’s how you learn and have a chance to respond.”
Robinson’s side have an experienced bowling attack and, although they lack a world star at the top of the order, he does not rule out one or more emerging over the course of the month-long tournament.
“Our batting is more inexperienced but what’s hugely exciting is the progress made over the last year,” he said.
“I’m so excited to see some of these girls on the big world stage. It’s their turn to take centre stage, to take those key positions.”
Knight is equally excited about the prospect of leading her country at a first major tournament and is dreaming of a Lord’s final, which is expected to be a sell-out after over 9,000 pre-sales.
“Historically English fans have been the best supporters of women’s cricket in the world,” she said.
“We had an event at Lord’s recently and met some of our World Cup winners from 1973 and 1993.
“It would be lovely if 2017 can be a special year for us and we can reach that final but there’s a lot of cricket to play before then.”