February 3, 2003

A first trophy for the cabinet - with ducks a plus

Claire Taylor's Winter Diary

For the first of the warm-up games on this tour England take on an Otago side bolstered by the addition of the two Claire Taylors and Arran Thompson. England bat first and make 193 for nine on a grassy wicket.

I'm behind the stumps for only the third time this year and keep tidily, picking up a stumping. The Otago Sparks batted well with contributions from the England players and Rachel Pullar (a New Zealand player who has withdrawn from the current squad) to complete a three-wicket win with five overs to spare.

Sunday saw the second of the warm-up matches. England elected to field first this time and Rachel Pullar top scored for the Sparks with 100 not out to leave England with 200 runs required for the win. Rain stopped play late in the afternoon with England at the asking rate with three wickets down. It would have been a good chase for England to win and would have filled the batsmen with confidence going into the World Series Tournament at Lincoln.

All of the matches on this tour will be filmed and the video footage analysed to help us make improvements to our game. We'll track against key performance indicators such as quick singles, edges, appeals, play and misses and so on. Bowlers and batsmen alike will be able to view matchday footage of technique to check shot selection and execution or ball shape and the batsmen's reaction. Already I've noticed differences in bat pick up that I'll be able to work on in training.

The next day we travelled back up to Christchurch and started our training at Lincoln University. There were a lot of memories from the World Cup for most of the players in the squad, not a very happy time for the England girls and hopefully we'll be able to overcome that and play some more positive cricket. That evening was spent helping Laura Harper celebrate her 19th birthday.

Our first match at Lincoln was another warm-up game against New Zealand A, who had just tied a match against their senior team. We scored 199 for six on a difficult track with the ball staying very low (three LBWs for the first three wickets). NZ A won the match with only two balls to spare and no wickets. A very tense competitive match which we should have sown up when they needed 21 from 18 deliveries with two wickets in hand.

The opening match of the tournament saw Australia reasserting their dominance of the women's game with a 60-run victory over New Zealand, Karen Rolton scoring a quickfire 80 from 60 balls. Our first game was against India in a rain affected 45 over match. As the scorecards show we didn't bat well and collapsed from 49 for one to 86 all out.

India made the runs for the loss of only four wickets and left us very down about our game.

At training the next day we worked on skills for manipulating the ball for singles, a game against Australia bringing out intense concentration. The game itself was good for us. Another step on the ladder to getting victories against these teams. We made 158 from our 50 overs, I made 35 from 50 deliveries before a soft dismissal to gully. Australia were under pressure early on and we feel that we kept Rolton in check, allowing mostly singles in the second phase of the game.

They won the game in the 39th over to claim the bonus point with seven wickets in hand after a good partnership between Rolton and Gosko.

A jog and stretching for warm down followed by an ice bath and we're getting ready for the next day's play against the Kiwis. Once again our batting let us down and we're defending 140 on a lightening quick outfield. The Kiwis get off to a quick start with Rolls and Lynch scoring at six an over.

We meet up at the drinks break determined to make a change and in a fantastic 15-over spell take five wickets for 26 runs. It wasn't quite enough though, as McGlashan and Mason steered the Kiwis home in the 39th over.

Today we've been catching up with washing and preparing for a media event that was to see most of the team in the Avon river in Christchurch. Four team members were selected to represent England in the first World Series Inner Tube race with entries from India, New Zealand and Australia to take on.

The race started amicably enough with Laura Newton leading the way for England. The rules stated that "mild" interference was allowed and that only deliberate capsizing of an opposition tube would lead to disqualification. Suffice to say that the race turned into an interference competition with those out of the water hampering the other teams as best they could. India's novel approach involved getting out of the water near the beginning and running the tube and paddle down stream.

The Kiwis on the riverside were all dressed in smart casuals for a team meal out so weren't able to join in the interference employed by the Australians and English supporters. Tubes and paddles were stolen and competitors pushed back up the river whilst trying to avoid the shower of water bombs and eggs from the riverside.

England were named inaugural winners since we were in the lead before all this really started. So we now have a beautiful trophy topped with a rubber duck (a nod to the official annual rubber duck race down the Avon) to add to the ECB's trophy cabinet. Here's hoping that we can get some wins on the board and add a cricketing trophy as well.