Kate Cross targets 50-over World Cup as ODI series decider looms

Lauren Bell and Kate Cross, England's ODI spearheads, wave for the cameras Getty Images

Kate Cross, England's veteran seamer, says she hasn't given up hope of competing for a berth in England's T20 World Cup squad in Bangladesh this winter, but admits her more realistic goal is the 50-over version in 2025, as she prepares to lead the line once more in the third ODI against Pakistan at Chelmsford.

Cross, 32, claimed two wickets in England's 37-run victory in the series opener at Derby on Thursday, and with a total of 85 at 25.35 in 64 ODIs to date, is by a distance the most experienced seamer in England's white-ball ranks.

In the T20I format, however, she has played just three matches in the last four years, and by her own admission, she missed her chance to impress when recalled for England's shock series loss to Sri Lanka in September last year. The second of those three matches also took place at Chelmsford, where Cross returned figures of 0 for 33 in 2.2 overs as Chamari Athapaththu inspired her side to victory.

As such, while the squad's main focus is on building towards Bangladesh in October, Cross acknowledges that this final ODI is a big chance for her to hone the skills that have kept her at the forefront of England's 50-over plans for the past five years - and to help raise the team's standards after an "untidy" display, studded with 31 wides, in last week's win in the series opener.

"I think how we played in Derby probably wasn't how we would like to play the game," Cross said. "We were a little bit untidy with the ball, probably not at our best in the field. And we probably didn't put as much pressure on the Pakistan bowling attack as we would like.

"We actually haven't lost an ODI series under Jon Lewis [since November 2022] so it goes to show we're doing a lot of really good things, but how do we keep that mindset positive all the time? We were probably disappointed with ourselves in Derby, that we could have been a little bit more ruthless in some of those moments.

"We know on our best day we can beat any team, we saw that in the Ashes last year when we were able to put Australia under pressure in real key moments. But what we sometimes forget is that we're asking some really young, inexperienced players to be perfect. The group is trying to learn and improve whilst we play international cricket and that's a really difficult place to be.

"We've not got these windows now where you've got eight weeks at your region or at Loughborough training, and purposely just working on one thing. Because you're in an England shirt, you're expected to be absolutely perfect all the time, but that's something we have to measure ourselves on correctly. As much as we don't want to be bowling 40 wides in a game, we obviously don't do that on purpose."

With bad weather in Chelmsford on Tuesday, England's practice was limited to some indoor sessions for the batters, but as Cross admitted, the team's mental preparation is the key factor given the intensity of their current workloads across formats and tournaments - which includes the white-ball series against New Zealand in June and July, followed by the next edition of the Hundred, which culminates in August.

"There's always something around the corner," she said. "We've got South Africa this winter, we've got an Ashes just after in January, and then we've got the 50-over World Cup next year as well. So you always feel like you're constantly building for something. And underlying all of that are the basic skills that we're trying to top up all the time.

"So the priority is T20 cricket at the moment for us, but for me, I'm probably thinking more about the 50-over stuff and prepping for that World Cup in 18 months' time. That might be different for Alice Capsey and Lauren Bell, so it's exciting that we've got all this stuff on in the calendar and so much to look forward to. But in terms of this series, it's really important to be able to practice with the mindset that we want to take into that [50-over] World Cup."

As for the T20 World Cup, Cross insists she can still be involved, and plans to use both the Charlotte Edwards Cup and Northern Superchargers' Hundred campaign to push her case for a squad berth. But, given Bell's pre-eminence as England's frontline seamer, and her own failure to seize the moment last year, she accepts her place in the pecking order.

"I was in the squad for about four years without getting an opportunity, but I hold my hand up, in the Sri Lanka series I didn't execute anything that I wanted to," Cross said. "I know that I've probably lost my opportunity there. I've had a chat with Lewey [Jon Lewis] a few times and he just needs to see me be successful in T20 cricket. But the way the team is balanced at the moment, we've got one out-and-out seamer in Lauren Bell who's been exceptional in that format, so you've basically got to be knocking her out of the team.

"What Belly does brilliantly is swing the new ball and then come back and take wickets at the death to close games out. So it's quite a nice blueprint to be able to follow and aspire to.

"But it's just about knowing yourself as well," she added. "Obviously, as a 32-year-old, I probably know my limitations a little bit more than some of the younger girls, but you still want to take those opportunities if you do get them. It's a real fine balancing act. But our priority is wearing this shirt and doing the best that we can for England."