February 14, 2008

Close but no cigar

Charlotte Edwards
It was disappointing to tie the ODI series after leading 2-1, but that's better than England have managed in Australia for a long time



Fair and square: Edwards and Rolton with the trophy after the series was tied 2-2 © Getty Images

We arrived in Sydney, my favourite city, last Tuesday afternoon. I was very excited to be back, but a bit disappointed with the weather because it was raining when we arrived, and had been for the past week.

We had a half-hour turnaround at our lovely apartments before we were due back out at the British Consulate for a reception for the squad. The view from the room we were in was awesome: we could see the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge - the first image of Sydney for a large number of the girls, and they loved it. I love these receptions, because we get to meet some really interesting people, and this time we were served some delicious food too. The coconut chicken and prawns were among my favourites.

On Wednesday it was still raining, so we had indoor nets at the SCG. The Australian men were training at the same time as us, so we got to watch a bit of their session.

That night we went to Coogee Bay for dinner. Unfortunately, it rained all night, but the food and company were brilliant and we were all on good form and looking forward to the game the next day.

However, the next morning at 8am we were told that the ground was waterlogged and our game was in serious doubt. An hour or so later it was confirmed the game had been cancelled despite bright sunshine where we were staying. So we headed down to the SCG for nets and a little bit of a run-around with a frisbee and football (not at the same time though!), as well as a quick dip in the pool.

Thursday's game would have been my 100th ODI for England, so we had arranged a team meal for that night at my favourite restaurant in Sydney, Nicks, on Cockle Bay Wharf. Although I hadn't yet made 100 ODIs, we still decided to go out and celebrate. It was a lovely meal, with lots of banter and some kind words from some of the players. Tails (Claire Taylor), who I've played international cricket with for ten years, made a touching speech and it felt really special to be sharing this moment with this great group of girls.

On Friday we had been invited to hospitality at the ODI between Australia and Sri Lanka. It was another chance to pull out our Paul Costelloe number ones, and was a really enjoyable afternoon and evening. It was good to be able to catch up with our former coach Richard Bates, who has moved out here to coach the New South Wales Breakers. The cricket wasn't as entertaining - Australia won easily - as the massages and manicures that were on offer as part of the hospitality!

After another training day at the SCG on Saturday, my 100th ODI dawned the following day. It was a really big couple of games for us with the series standing one apiece and we were all really focused and looking forward to the challenge.

I lost another toss and Australia opted to bat first. They got off to a good start - 112 for 2 off 24 - but a magnificent performance from all the bowlers and fielders managed to restrict them to 177. Although we'd done well, we knew reaching that target would be hard work on that wicket because it was its fifth day of cricket and was really worn. We lost our two openers early on and as I came to the crease, we were 37 for 2. However a great partnership between myself and Tails gave us the win. We lost Tails on 168 for 3 and so me and Lydia saw us home, with me hitting the winning runs.

On a personal note, it was obviously a great day to beat Australia in Australia in my 100th ODI, and to hit the winning runs. It doesn't get much better than that. To beat them twice in a week, after having gone 19 years without beating them once in Australia, was pretty special. I was really proud of all the girls. We've had a tough week (coach Mark Dobson and veteran player Jane Smit both quit suddenly) and the way the girls responded and pulled together was great. It was great to give Laney (new coach Mark Lane) his first win. He's a great coach and the girls have responded really well to him. He knows a lot of them from his ten years' experience in the women's game and he's great to work with.



Edwards with new coach Mark Lane, who stepped up to the top job after Mark Dobson resigned during the tour © ECB

Although we'd won, it was a quiet night in with pizzas. We were heading back to the SCG the next day hoping to clinch a series win in Australia.

When the game came round, we nearly didn't bother to toss the coin because Karen Rolton keeps winning! Sure enough, I lost. It was the sixth day of cricket on the wicket and, as you can imagine, it wasn't the best toss to lose. They batted first and made 211. I was really disappointed as we didn't bowl or field to anywhere near our potential. However, there was a positive in Steph Davies making her international debut and taking four wickets. After a nervous start she came back really well and I was really pleased for her.

That total was always going to be a big ask on that wicket and we fell 41 runs short, which we were bitterly disappointed with. Although we're frustrated we didn't clinch the series, there are so many positives we can take from these games. It was first time we hadn't lost to the Australians since 1976, which was the first ever ODI series between the two sides. It was a great indicator that we can compete with the best in the world, and we've shown a lot of character on this trip, which is great to see for me as a captain. I can only see the team going from strength to strength, which is fantastic given that the World Cup is only a year away and is here in Australia.

We'll take a huge amount of confidence into the Ashes Test match which starts on Friday. Obviously, there's quite a lot of hype around the game, but both teams are looking forward to playing a great game of cricket at a great venue. It'll be a tough battle but one we're definitely prepared for and looking forward to. Our match forms part of the centenary celebrations around Don Bradman's birth, which makes it extra special. We've enjoyed our last few days in Sydney seeing a few of the sights and tomorrow we head to Bowral for our Ashes defence.

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

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