‘Hopefully if my selection demonstrates anything it’s that everyone in the regions now has a chance’
Arlott, the 23-year-old Worcestershire seamer, had only the day before completed a quadruple-wicket maiden in a five-wicket haul for Central Sparks in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy at Hove, where they beat defending champions Southern Vipers.
After long drive home and unpacking her kit after at the end of “an emotional weekend” then eating dinner, she discovered she’d missed a phone call from Jonathan Finch, ECB Director of Women’s Cricket.
“I thought it was a bit weird on a random Sunday evening so I called him back straight away, and he told me the news,” Arlott said. “I don’t think I responded for a good two minutes.
“He was sat on the other end of the line: ‘I hope the silence is a good thing’. I’m probably as shocked as anyone that I got the call. I didn’t even think my name was in contention to be considered so to get the call just rounded off that weekend really.”
Knight admitted to not knowing much about Arlott until this season, while Lisa Keightly, England Women’s Head Coach, was on hand to watch her feats at Hove on Saturday.
“I’ve probably gone under the radar a little bit,” Arlott said. “Just through just playing county cricket for a couple years beforehand, I don’t think anybody had really heard of me.”
Awarded one of 41 full-time domestic contracts at Sparks this year, Arlott credits her new professionalism with allowing her to take the next step in her career.
“I’ve got to give credit to our coaching team at the Sparks, they’ve really created a purposeful training environment,” Arlott said. “Our Head Coach Lloyd (Tennant) always refers to it as we’re game players not net players, and I think that has massively paid off for us as a team, and individuals as well.
“We played our first warm up game in early March. It was freezing but it was probably the best thing we could have done as a team. You forget when you’re inside that there’s so many factors that you lose being inside in a net that we gained so quickly from just being outside.
“We’ve really worked hard in the gym, this year as well and I think that’s part of the reason why things like Saturday happen. We’re at a point where we can physically replicate and not just bowl 10 overs but bowl 10 overs with a purpose.”
If she is to break into the match-day XI to play India in Bristol, she will have done so from a squad that includes frontline seamer Katherine Brunt, the experienced Kate Cross, who is poised to play the fourth Test of her career and first since 2015, and Anya Shrubsole who missed this year’s tour of New Zealand through injury. Freya Davies, who took 4 for 23 in the second T20I in New Zealand is also in the squad, as is Tash Farrant, who earned her England recall for that tour and who has started the domestic 50-over season in fine form also.
“Hopefully if my selection demonstrates anything it’s that everyone in the regions now has a chance,” Arlott said. “I may be one of the first that have come from the RHF but actually I hope that I’m not the last by any means.
“I hope that people keep putting in performances and it shows that the system actually really works.”
Despite an increased professionalism, or perhaps because of it, Arlott has also learned not to put pressure on herself. And she believes the unexpected nature of her call-up to international level will stand her in good stead going forward.
“It’s probably the best thing that could have happened,” she said. “If it was something I expected, I think something like Saturday might not have happened where I was trying to force something.
“I’ve spent the whole of this year playing my cricket with just doing everything with a purpose but relaxing with it as well and actually I’ve found that the performances have come from just being able to enjoy the moment rather than thinking too far ahead.
“My cricket has really matured over the last couple of years. When I was younger I was quite naive and I was always searching for wickets and trying to force what would happen. I’m [now] a lot more rational with thinking on and off the pitch and I think that’s probably been a big factor in having a good start to the year.”
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo