Nat Sciver-Brunt will miss England’s opening T20 after ‘minor medical procedure’

Nat Sciver-Brunt will miss England’s first game of the summer after undergoing a “minor medical procedure”.

The reigning ICC Women’s cricketer of the year will be absent from Saturday’s first T20 against Pakistan at Edgbaston, but has already been cleared to return for the rest of the series.

Her middle-order spot goes to the returning Freya Kemp, who comes in after a complicated recovery from a stress fracture of the back and is available as a specialist batter as she completes her rehabilitation.

Speaking on the eve of the match, England captain Heather Knight said: “Nat is unavailable. She’s had a minor medical procedure and the game tomorrow is too soon for her.

“Freya comes in and she’ll bat at five, which is a cool opportunity for her. Freya is a massive, clean ball-striker and a left-hander, which we don’t have a lot of in England. When she’s back bowling, she’ll become a real asset.

“We played three T20s in New Zealand without her (Sciver-Brunt) recently and that gave us an opportunity to find out about a few people and about our depth.”

Birmingham’s bond with Knight’s side has been growing in recent years, from an extended stay during the 2022 Commonwealth Games to a record-breaking crowd of almost 20,000 for last summer’s Ashes match, but their welcome is likely to be a more mixed affair this time as the midlands’ Pakistani diaspora turn out in numbers.

“There might be some hostility towards us, I guess, with the Pakistan fans but it will be a great day. It will create a fun atmosphere and we’ve talked a little bit to prepare ourselves for what it might be like.

“Last summer’s Ashes was one of the best atmospheres I’ve ever played under. It feels like the new normal now – big crowds coming in, playing in big stadiums at prime times for people to come and watch. Hopefully we can put on a show and entertain people.”

One of the newer box-office attractions at Knight’s disposal is fast bowler Lauren Filer, the Western Storm seamer clocked as the fastest bowler on the circuit despite having just one fully professional season behind her.

“That stat doesn’t surprise me, she’s pretty uncomfortable to face in the nets,” Knight said.

Lauren Filer offers an express pace option for England.
Lauren Filer offers an express pace option for England (Bradley Collyer/PA)

“I’ve loved captaining her, seeing what she can do and how to use her. Lauren is really working on being more accurate as well as keeping that high pace.

“A lot of girls come in and are honing their craft in the spotlight playing international cricket at the top level. That’s where patience comes in because they’re learning on the job.”

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