Wong bidding to banish no-ball demons after Sri Lanka setback

Wong, 21, was speaking at the launch of Metro Bank and the ECB’s Women’s and Girls’ Fund
Wong, 21, was speaking at the launch of Metro Bank and the ECB’s Women’s and Girls’ Fund

By Milly McEvoy

Resilient Issy Wong insists she can recover from her run-up ravaged return to international cricket ahead of England’s T20 series decider against Sri Lanka in Derby.

The young fast bowler, 21, featured for the first time after eight months on the sidelines this weekend and experienced a bumpy ride, going for 12 runs with three front-foot no balls in her first over as Heather Knight’s team suffered a shock eight-wicket defeat at Chelmsford.

Wong was also dropped by Birmingham Phoenix during The Hundred – where she conceded 62 runs and took just one wicket in the 30 balls she bowled – with her hopes of playing in today’s crunch East Midlands clash now hanging in the balance.

The Birmingham-based star was one of the poster girls of English cricket at the start of the summer but after enduring a difficult few weeks, believes she can bounce back and help Knight’s 50-over World Cup runners-up get back on track.

“It’s not been easy but it's part and parcel and one of those things,” she said.

“When things are going really well for you, you feel like you're on top of the world and everything is going in your favour.

“So, if you're going to enjoy it there, you have to take it with a pinch of salt when it's not going your way.

“It's been motivation to be back performing where I want to be. Because I've not been where I want to be this summer.

“That’s on me and I am also the only person who can change that, there's no point me sitting around and sulking.

“I’ve just got to keep working hard and keep doing the right things on the daily and hope that the good things add up and hopefully we'll be on the right track.”

Trailblazer Wong – the first player of Chinese descent to represent England – was flying earlier this year as she took the first hat-trick in the Women’s Premier League in India in March.

And that led to her face adorning billboards up and down the country at the beginning of the summer ahead of England’s Women’s Ashes campaign.

But she played no part in the rip-roaring series despite being in the squad and after her string of run-up struggles, is now unsure whether she will feature in today’s series-deciding third T20 against Sri Lanka.

Wong, speaking at the launch of Metro Bank and the ECB’s Women’s and Girls’ Fund, added: “It [her run-up] was really long, I just didn't have any control over it.

“It felt like I just lost so much margin for error. When it was perfect, it was still going alright, but then the times where it wasn't perfect, it was way off.

“And it kind of got to the stage where I was fed up of sometimes being good but often being bad and I wanted to do something about that.

“The nature of the game is that there's never a good time to do that, so it was very much a case of ‘right, let's do it now because otherwise I'm just going to be wasting my time for the next month trying to do it in October.’”

Metro Bank have partnered with the ECB to increase the number of women and girls in cricket, and today announced a pledge to treble the number of girls’ cricket teams by 2026.

In order to do that, they will be using a joint fund to invest in new coaches and volunteers to help attract, retain and train more girls to play cricket.

As the Champion of Women’s and Girls’ Cricket, Metro Bank is working closely with the ECB and will use the jointly funded women’s and girls’ Fund to invest in attracting and retaining coaches and volunteers to get more girls into and staying in cricket.

As Wong has progressed to the top of the English game, she has had several constants to keep her grounded – her coaches.

Wong is still coached by Dom Ostler, who she has been working with since she was nine and has helped her with both her batting and bowling.

That is why she is backing the Metro Bank and ECB Fund, which aims to have up to six thousand coaches and volunteers focused solely on the women’s and girls’ game across grassroots cricket by 2026.

Wong added: “I have obviously worked with a few coaches over the years. At school I was working with Gwen Davies who I went on to play with later on.

“Dom Ostler has coached me since I was nine and he's now an assistant coach at Sparks and Phoenix, so that's pretty cool.

“He probably knows me inside out. And he's been telling me the same things about my front shoulder when I'm batting since I was 10 years old.

“It's really nice to work with the same people all the way through and develop those relationships.”

Metro Bank have partnered with the ECB to attract and keep more women and girls in the sport. They have pledged to treble the number of girls’ cricket teams by 2026. Understand more at www.metrobankonline.co.uk/cricket