HomeSport'Destructive' Heath ready to put pressure on Jones

‘Destructive’ Heath ready to put pressure on Jones

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Bess Heath’s all-action approach is seen as ideal for how England want to play under coach Jon LewisVenue: Kia Oval Date: Saturday, 26 August Times: 14:30 BSTCoverage: Live on BBC Two and iPlayer. Ball-by-ball commentary on BBC Radio 5 Sports Extra and BBC Sounds. The BBC Sport website and app will have the TV and radio coverage alongside live text updates, in-play video clips and all the best stats and social mediaThroughout the 2023 Hundred, BBC Sport is running a feature series called England Next Gen, designed to look at players who may make the step up to international cricket in the next few years. Next up is Northern Superchargers wicketkeeper Bess Heath.Pulling up trees is nothing new for Bess Heath.Coming from a family of tree surgeons, perhaps cutting down trees would be more accurate. However you want to phrase it, Heath’s performances on the pitch are making people sit up and take notice.Following an impressive summer, the 22-year-old wicketkeeper has been named in the England squad for the one-day international and T20 series against Sri Lanka in September.The call-up has come as no surprise to those who have played with or against Heath at Northern Diamonds or Northern Superchargers. The general feeling for the past couple of years is that it was a matter of when, not if, her chance would come.”Bess Heath thoroughly deserves it,” former England spinner Alex Hartley told BBC Sport.”She’s a great individual and is one of those who let the runs talk. Bess is going to concentrate on herself and when the time comes and she’s called [into the XI], she’ll be ready.”The Chesterfield-born keeper made her senior county debut for Derbyshire shortly before her 13th birthday, and while her success on the pitch has brought plenty of attention, so too have her hobbies off it.While an increasing number of cricketers seem to spend their time on a golf course, Heath is more likely to be found in a garage.She has a passion for renovating cars and vans, and built her own car from scratch. She still helps out with the family business of tree surgery and former team-mate Jenny Gunn told the Yorkshire Postexternal-link last year Heath can “even make a punchbag out of sawdust”.Superchargers captain Hollie Armitage said: “Off the field, she is so different to anyone else.”She loves Land Rovers and things like that. She just brings a different element to a group environment.”She is such a team player and she’s just a person that any team would want in their squad.”It is what Heath can do with bat and gloves that has got England interested, though. Especially given the attacking brand of cricket encouraged by head coach Jon Lewis.”She’s not going to die wondering, she’s always going to look for the positive option, and I think that suits the mantra of this England team perfectly,” Northern Diamonds director of cricket James Carr told the regional side’s website.external-linkThat much has been clear throughout the summer with Heath scoring 88 from 95 balls in a red-ball game for England A against Australia, before playing a couple of similarly explosive innings in the white-ball series with Australia A.Heath scored 88 from 95 balls for England A against Australia before the AshesIn The Hundred, Heath’s strike-rate of 179.55 is the third highest in the women’s competition. Her ability to find, and often clear, the leg-side boundary has helped Superchargers reach the eliminator.”We’ve got a year now until the World Cup and I’m trying to figure out which players to take to Bangladesh,” England coach Lewis said.”It’ll be really interesting to see how a lot of these young players do. It’ll give us some good insight into whether or not they’re ready to play international cricket.”Bess is an all-action cricketer who impacts games and is a great fit for how we want to play.”England will be aware that with Heath they are investing as much in the player she can become as who she is now.Four T20 half-centuries aged 22 are a clear indication of her talent, and although an average of 15.75 in the format shows there is room for improvement in terms of consistency, strike-rate is arguably just as important in the shorter forms.In 2023, Heath’s T20 strike-rate is a hefty 159.83.A much healthier average of 38.89 in 50-over cricket, while still boasting a strike-rate of 104.08, is also very promising.”The biggest thing is that she strikes such a clean ball,” Armitage added.”She offers something that only a minimal amount of female cricketers can do. She can hit the ball over the boundary, no matter what size they are, and that is extremely important.”She can face 10 balls and get 30, and especially if you come in down the order, when you might only have 10 balls to make an impact, she is someone who can always take the game on.”Imagine what she’ll be like when she can bat 20, 30, 40 balls? She’ll be on for one of the fastest hundreds I reckon.”In both formats, Heath has shown a preference for facing pace bowling, striking at 125.92 against seamers compared with 106.40 when facing spinners in T20 cricket, according to CricViz. If she can bring that spin number in line with the pace one, her appeal to England for the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh would be even greater.”She’s a destructive batter and she’s putting pressure on not only the openers in the England team but Amy Jones, who has been first on the teamsheet for a very, very long time because she’s the only wicketkeeper,” Hartley added.”Well, now Bess Heath is there. She might have the gloves, she can open the batting and can also bat in the middle order.”I’m excited to see, if and when she plays, her put pressure on Amy Jones and others.”Armitage has no doubts that Heath’s call-up is just the start.”I’ve played with her a lot. You can see how she has developed over the last couple of years, and obviously the brand of cricket she plays is what England are trying to play now,” she said.”I can see her keeping improving and doing what she’s doing and playing for England for a long time.”

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