It's 11 months since England last played away from home in the T20 World Cup in Australia 

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Former national team regular Tash Farrant makes her return to England’s squad for their tour of New Zealand next month, in their first series abroad since the pandemic began. 

England Women are set to spend over a month in New Zealand for three ODIs and three T20s to be played across the country, more than 11 months after their unfortunate semi-final exit from the T20 World Cup in Melbourne. 

The first ODI will be played on February 23 at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch, before moving to the University of Otago Oval for the other two. The T20s will be played at Wellington’s Sky Stadium and Auckland’s Eden Park, before completing the tour on March 7 at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui. 

When they embark on their trip on Jan 24, they will be without vice-captain Anya Shrubsole who misses out with a knee injury, but left-arm seamer Farrant will travel with the squad for the first time since October 2018. 

Farrant, 24, was in the first intake of England Women cricketers awarded full-time contracts in 2014, but two years ago was cut from the programme. Last year she was awarded one of the ECB’s 40 domestic full-time contracts, after over a year spent coaching to finance her playing career. Her performance in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy last summer, captaining the South East Stars, has impressed England selectors enough to breathe life back into her international career. 

On the road | England Women's touring details

Sophia Dunkley also retains her place having appeared in England’s last international against the West Indies in September, while Katie George has sustained a stress fracture in her back that sees her miss out.

"We’re hugely excited about getting over to New Zealand and maintaining our commitment to play international cricket despite these challenging times," Jonathan Finch, Director of England Women’s Cricket, said. "We have a really important 24 months in front of us with two ICC Global Events, the Women’s Ashes and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Our ambition is to be successful across all these events and this tour is the first step towards achieving that."

The squad will quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival in New Zealand, during which testing protocols will be in place to allow the group to train. 

Last week the ECB confirmed England Women will make their first ever tour to Pakistan in October, adding to a promisingly packed calendar this year, which will also see South Africa visit England and New Zealand play a return series in the summer.