Sophia Dunkley looks all set for the Indian challenge

England cricketer Sophia Dunkley opens up about her journey, setbacks, and the road ahead as she gears up for the upcoming T20I and Test tour of India. It was only a few months ago that Dunkley was all set to lead England against Australia, seeking to disrupt the Australian dominance that had remained for too long.

Reflecting on the past, Dunkley expressed disappointment in her performance over the summer, especially during the Ashes series, where England came close but couldn’t clinch the trophy.

“I wanted to contribute to the team effort, and it felt like it wasn’t quite there for me. The Ashes was an amazing series, pretty intense, and every game came down to the wire but I was definitely disappointed with how I performed,” she said In a candid chat with ESPNcricinfo.

Following the intense summer, Dunkley decided to take a step back, missing the Women’s Hundred and White-ball series against Sri Lanka in the process.

“Missing the Sri Lanka series was a discussion that I had with the coaching staff and especially with the head coach and it was about resting really,” Dunkley added emphasising the importance of taking a breather amidst a hectic schedule.

The break seems to have worked wonders for Dunkley, who returned to form in the WBBL, scoring a notable 73 for Melbourne Stars against Perth Scorchers.

“It was a good time to have a rest and step away and do things that are important to me, see my friends and family. We’ve got an absolutely massive year in international cricket coming up. So I was very grateful that I’ve got a brilliant team of coaches who really support me and gave me that time, and I’m going into the India series feeling pretty refreshed and excited. I feel I’ve got a new lease of life after having that time away, which is great,” she added.

With the spotlight set to intensify next year, Dunkley is bracing herself for the challenge. “You get DMs and comments all the time of opinions of people, and it’s just how the game is, I guess,” she remarked, acknowledging the unavoidable scrutiny that comes with being in the public eye.

To be in the best position to play for England is my priority: Dunkley

Dunkley, who won’t be part of the Women’s Premier League next year, explained her decision to skip the WPL auction, stating,

“To work on my game and to be in the best position to play for England is my priority really. It wasn’t an easy decision at all. It took a lot of time and a lot of discussion. Going back into the auction, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get picked up anyway, but in the case that I did, it was just weighing up the different decisions I had to make. The way the year’s panned out, it makes it tricky as it’s so busy and sometimes you’ve got to make those decisions.”

The cricketer, known for her unconventional grip, has made technical changes, opening up her grip for a clearer back path and smoother stroke-making.

“I struggled a little bit with my grip throughout the summer, which I felt limited me,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of work on that and it feels in a good place and I’m going to continue working on it the next few months or so. I’m seeing some really good signs at training and in the Big Bash, when I got going, it felt a lot better,” she concluded.