January 23, 2008

Prepped and ready

Charlotte Edwards
Quite a few players on England's women's team have been playing in Australia over the winter. That will stand them in good stead as their Ashes tour gets underway Down Under

Bring it on: this is England's first tour of Australia since 2003-03 © Getty Images

We're on the plane as I'm writing this, having just left Hong Kong, and we're all excited about our tour Down Under. Against Australia we have a Twenty20, a one-day series and an Ashes Test - these games being played around Melbourne and Sydney - then we are on to New Zealand for more of the shorter games.

It's the first time we have been here since the 2002-03 season, when Australia edged a tight Test series and then took the World Series title in New Zealand, so we are looking forward to competing out there once again.

Preparation since the end of the last season in England, meanwhile, has been going really well. We've had five winter training camps in Loughborough and we've had access to various specialist coaches, which has had a great impact on all of the players.

Jack Birkenshaw, the ex-Leicestershire and England bowler, has been really excellent in helping our spinners, Charlotte Russell, Holly Colvin and Rosalie Birch, in particular. But overall also, his experience has been invaluable to all of the girls.

Five of our girls are out in Australia at the moment and have been since the start of the Australian season. Isa Guha and Beth Morgan are playing high-level club cricket, while Jenny Gunn also plays state cricket for South Australia, flying over from her Sydney club to do so. It's great for all of them and we're trying to encourage as many girls as possible to take the opportunity to play there. It just shows the steps and the progress that the women's game is taking that we're able to offer players this chance. We're really looking forward to meeting up with them when we arrive because, obviously, they haven't been at our training over the winter.

This is a big tour for me (it is my first on Australian soil as captain) but also for the team in preparation for the World Cup in 2009, which is also in Australia. It's a great opportunity for the girls to impress management and selectors and stake a claim for a place in that team, as well as experience the conditions Down Under.

Playing against the top two teams in the women's game in Australia and New Zealand is the best preparation we can get for that tournament. Also, some of the matches on this tour will be in New South Wales which is where the World Cup will be played.

There's lots of hype surrounding the tour because it's an Ashes tour, but we don't want to make too much of that as it is predominantly a one-day tour, and that's where we need to focus our attention for now.

We're all set and ready to go.

Charlotte Edwards' Ashes tour diary will be published weekly on Cricinfo