England’s Rising Pacer Issy Wong: Navigating through ups and downs

From highs of registering the first-ever Women’s Premier League (WPL) hat-trick to lows of facing snubs from national and domestic teams, England’s up-and-coming pacer Issy Wong experienced both ends of the spectrum in 2023. Eyeing a place back in the national squad ahead of the Twenty20 (T20) World Cup, the 20-year-old is determined for another good WPL season, having played close to her best in the inaugural edition.

Issy Wong. PC: Mumbai Indians
Issy Wong. PC: Mumbai Indians

England’s Rising Pacer Issy Wong made a name for herself in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) in the 2021-22 season. The following year, she made her Test debut in June 2022, and in July, debuted in both white-ball formats of the game. Come to the WPL auction in February 2023, she was then a reserve in England’s T20 World Cup squad; however, she was signed by Mumbai Indians for her base price of INR 30 Lakhs.

Issy walked straight into Mumbai’s starting XI and picked up 15 wickets, maintaining an economy rate of 6.46 and averaging 14.00, while also chipping in with the bat, scoring 61 runs at a strike rate of 132.6 from 5 innings. In a team of superstars featuring Nat Sciver-Brunt, Amelia Kerr, Hayley Matthews, and Harmanpreet Kaur, Issy made a strong name for herself and is back for another season in the Blue and Gold.

Quoting, Issy, “I probably played close to my best cricket last year and I’m looking to build on that and to keep hopefully contributing. That’s what, as players, we want to do. We want to contribute to the success of the team, and I was lucky enough to do that last year.”

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Post the WPL success, Issy failed to translate the same form into domestic cricket. She had a decent (1st leg) 50-over season, bagging 8 wickets from as many outings, but in the T20 tournament, went for runs while striking a couple of wickets before being sidelined after 3 games. Issy Wong picked up only 1 wicket from 5 matches at an economy rate of 12.40 in The (2023) Hundred, and in her only T20I, much like her domestic season, struggled to hit the right lines and lengths. However, she worked with England’s bowling coach Matt Mason on “rebuilding stuff.”

Quoting, Issy, “Obviously, probably things didn’t go my way last summer… ‘sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes you’re the windshield’. I felt like the windshield in India last year and I was probably the bug in England… (I) probably thought too much about what I was doing, and I ended up doing kind of the wrong things.”

Post ‘repair work’ and with success in a recent series in India, Issy now feels, ‘that’s all behind her now.’ Named in England’s A squad for the tour of India in November-December 2023, she returned bowling figures of 1/13 (3), 1/35 (3), and 2/18 (2.2), while also registering batting scores of 35* and 28*.

Yet, Issy was overlooked when England named squads for their New Zealand tour, a couple of days after the WPL final. However, she is looking forward to picking the brains of ‘two of the best fast bowlers to ever play the women’s game’ Jhulan Goswami (Mumbai’s bowling coach and mentor) and teammate Shabnim Ismail this WPL season.

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The 2nd edition of the Women’s Premier League gets underway on the 23rd of February 2024, with the finalists of the 2023 WPL, Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals, taking the field. After the 1st leg fixtures in Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium, the action moves north to Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium for the business end, including the eliminator and the final on March 17.

(Quotes sourced from ESPN)

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