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'I couldn't have asked for a better response from the girls'

Heather Knight

ICC Women’s World Cup semi-final: England v South Africa
Venue: Brightside Ground, Bristol Date: Tuesday, 18 July Start time: 10:30 BST
Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio 4 LW and online; in-play highlights and live text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app

Captain Heather Knight has led England into the Women’s World Cup semi-finals – with just South Africa standing between the hosts and a place in Sunday’s final at Lord’s.

After losing our opening group game against India, I couldn’t have asked for a better response from the girls to complete six straight wins on the bounce and finish as group winners.

The pleasing thing has been the amount of different people who have done a job for the team at different times.

The batting has grabbed the headlines a bit, but the bowlers have got better and better as the competition has gone on and it was the bowlers who ultimately won us that close encounter against Australia which meant we finished top of the table.

There’s a lot of trust in the team at the moment and belief in your mate next to you, but saying that, we’re nowhere near the finished article as a team. It’s very exciting that there’s a lot of room for growth with the bunch of girls we’ve got now.

We’ve had to win in different ways in this competition, from holding our nerve and fighting hard in that thriller against Australia, to big scores and then winning ugly against West Indies on a very tired wicket. That’s given us a massive amount of confidence, but obviously it means nothing going into the semi-finals.

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Meeting the fans

It really has been special playing in a home World Cup. Being the hosts, it’s meant we’ve played at all four of the venues – Bristol, Derby, Leicester and Taunton – in varying conditions and it’s great to see the work we’ve put in to adapting to the pitch in front of us pay off.

It’s been a real test with the schedule and the amount of travel that we’ve had over the past few weeks, but it’s also been great to see all of the support from across the country.

The support has been unreal and I can’t thank everyone enough for getting behind the team. The crowds really have lived every ball with us and hopefully this will continue for our semi-final on Tuesday at Bristol. The highlight for me was receiving this very sweet drawing from a five-year-old mascot named Beth.

Heather Knight receives a picture from a mascot

Bloopers, quiz champions and police escorts

In a big-pressure tournament like this one, it’s important to see the funny side of things and have a laugh at yourselves and your team-mates, and what better way to do this than by having a video bloopers reel for funny things that have happened in our games so far. Unfortunately I’ve made the video a few times, with a terrible throw against Australia being the most embarrassing.

England players celebrate victory in a pub quiz

Playing at home, it’s been nice to be able to get your mind off cricket at times. We managed to claim a pub quiz trophy, where we were the lucky winners of a grand total of £16! There were lots of teams there… honest.

And having spent a bit of time in Bristol, I took our opener Lauren Winfield on a “recovery bike ride” around the city, which finished in a tussle with a very steep incline to the top of the Clifton Suspension Bridge,

I don’t think Loz will be coming out with me on the bike any time soon! She was claiming that we got a police escort through the city though…

England opener Lauren Winfield (left) cycling

On to the semi-finals

We’ve had a day off and then a day in the nets on Monday ready for the semi-final on Tuesday. We played South Africa at the same venue earlier in the competition, and what a game it was, with both teams scoring 678 runs between us.

No doubt South Africa will be a tough test for us, they’ve got some quality players and have played well during the tournament to reach the semi-finals. Hopefully we can maintain the momentum we’ve got from the group stages!

There will be in-play video highlights of the Women’s World Cup semi-finals and final on the BBC Sport website, with ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary. You can read more BBC columns from Heather during the summer.

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Source: BBC

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