‘Obviously with a big price tag, there is a pressure to perform’: Nat Sciver-Brunt ahead of WPL

New Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS): England women’s team all-rounder Nat Sciver-Brunt clinched a staggering Rs 3.2 crore in the inaugural Women's Premier League (WPL) auction, a moment both exhilarating and sobering as she grappled with the notion of being "sold" in the cricketing marketplace.

Yet, amidst the excitement, there loomed the weight of a T20 World Cup match, a testament to the demands placed on modern-day cricketers.

With England's fixtures in New Zealand looming just days after the WPL final, Sciver-Brunt faced a dilemma familiar to many players: choosing between representing her franchise or her national team. Money inevitably played a role in her decision, but she also harbored hopes that such clashes between club and country commitments would diminish in the future, allowing players to prioritize international cricket without compromise.

"Yeah, I mean, I would be lying if I said no," Sciver-Brunt told ESPNcricinfo's Powerplay podcast. "Having obviously gone for that much in the first year, yeah, it certainly came into consideration.

"Hopefully this weigh-up of club versus country doesn't happen again. I know we've see it happen with the men's side of things and continue to happen for quite a while, and still will. Hopefully these clashes don't happen in the future, which I guess will keep the importance of international cricket and keep that focus for everyone."

Jon Lewis, England Women's head coach, grappled with a similar conundrum, highlighting the need for coordinated scheduling to prevent such conflicts in the future. Amidst the uncertainty, players like Heather Knight and Lauren Bell opted to prioritize national duty, while Sciver-Brunt and others balanced their commitments to both teams.

As Sciver-Brunt reflected on her decision, she acknowledged the complexities and individual choices that shaped the outcome. Conversations with teammates like Issy Wong and Danni Wyatt underscored the diverse perspectives within the cricketing community.

"It is such a hard one, because it's almost like it's a bit of an anomaly, like it'll - well hopefully - will not happen again," Sciver-Brunt said. "With the World Cup coming up, T20 is obviously important as well to our side, but hopefully with the decision that I've made, that will give a chance to some players to have a bit of confidence in themselves in the first three games and be able to show Lewy and Heather what they've got.

"I think it will only be better for our team, whether people have decided to go to New Zealand and not go to the WPL in the end, or hopefully people who have done well in India and got to some pressure matches, which will also help their game. So yeah, it was a tricky decision and I guess individuals have made their own their own choices and hopefully we won't be faced with that again."

The burgeoning women's franchise scene brought new experiences, including the auction process, which Sciver-Brunt found both intense and surreal. Her third visit to India in 12 months provided valuable exposure to subcontinental conditions, setting the stage for future international competitions.

"Ultimately people made their own decisions, which they should be allowed to," Sciver-Brunt said. "It would be an interesting one, obviously when we get to the latter stages of the tournament, if my team's in there, how it'll feel when England are playing and I'm not there."

It is part of the growing women's franchise scene that scheduling squeezes are increasing. Another idea that women's players are having to come to terms with is the auction.

"The wording of being sold at auction is still a bit baffling," Sciver-Brunt said. "Definitely a new experience that we'd seen before with many editions of the men's IPL. But to be part of it was pretty crazy, intense at times, and also just a weird day with it being during the World Cup.

"This year, I actually watched part of the auction, so sort of got an idea about how it would've gone last year. I'm feeling a lot more settled and a bit more sure about what's going to happen, and excited to get back over to India, and start the competition."

As a senior player in the England squad, Sciver-Brunt embraced her role as a leader, recognizing the importance of passing on knowledge and supporting her teammates on and off the field. Despite the added pressure of her lucrative deal, she remained focused on delivering performances that would benefit her team.

"Being a senior player in the England side, I sort of had a bit of experience of that… making sure I have my own responsibility to be passing on knowledge and be open with everyone so that whole group can improve," she said.

"But also that responsibility when we're on the pitch to either speak up if I see something that maybe could make a difference, or also then use my performances to help the side. I feel like I've been playing my cricket like that for the last four or five years, so it doesn't feel too different in that way.

"Obviously with a big price tag, that does add another layer to it, but last year I was lucky that I was in quite a good place in my cricket, so I didn't have to think too much about the performance side of it and just naturally let it happen. I've had a good training block this time, so we'll see how it goes."



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Title: ‘Obviously with a big price tag, there is a pressure to perform’: Nat Sciver-Brunt ahead of WPL

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