February 28, 2008

Another week, another country

Charlotte Edwards
After the memorable Ashes win, the tour rolls into New Zealand for five ODIs



Jenny Gunn gets a special England cap from Charlotte Edwards to mark her 50th ODI © ECB

We had our first warm-up game in New Zealand on Friday. It was really important after our Ashes celebrations that we knuckled down and continued with the good form that we had shown against Australia.

We batted first and got 183. Jenny Gunn, back from injury and performing well, hit 47. After lunch we bowled them all out for 86, so all in all a good day and excellent practise to get us used to the conditions in New Zealand.

England men were training at Lincoln University while we were playing there and a couple of the guys came over to watch us and congratulate us on our Ashes victory, which was really nice.

We had an early start the next day for a morning training session and then in the afternoon we watched the men's ODI against New Zealand. We had some great seats, just above the tunnel, and it was nice to sing along with the Barmy Army. Come the interval I had some work to do in the form of a couple of interviews - first with Sky Sports and then Test Match Special. It was great to have a long chat with David Gower and then Jonathan Agnew. I was a bit disappointed there was no cake in the TMS box, though!

Unfortunately we couldn't stay until the end of the game because we had our first one-dayer the next morning. We're a half-hour drive away from the ground, the Bert Sutcliffe Oval, also in Lincoln, so it was an early start for us.

I won my first ODI toss of the tour and fielded first. The Kiwis, or the White Ferns, posted 261 for 9 and in reply we were 138 all out. It was a really disappointing batting performance from us on a good track. We knew we were capable of chasing the total down, but too many soft dismissals cost us the game.

The next day we were back, raring to go for the second one-dayer. I lost the toss and the Kiwis batted first. They made 242 and this time our reply was fantastic: we hit the required runs in 44.4 overs and lost just one wicket. I've never not batted for England in an ODI I've played in, and I had to get some E45 cream for my serious pad rash, but I'm not complaining. It was a great partnership between Caroline (Atkins) and Tails (Sarah Taylor) and a great ton for Tails. It was also the first time we had beaten New Zealand in New Zealand since 1982, so it's a fantastic achievement. Another great milestone was that the second ODI was actually Jenny Gunn's 50th one-day international. A huge accomplishment, given that she's still only 21.

Playing back-to-back games is quite tough - they're a great test of character. We have to prepare ourselves well and ice baths and early nights are a necessity.

I was really pleased with the girls' response in the second game, bouncing back after having gone 0-1 down. It was always going to be difficult, but I'm so proud that we did it and so well too. Personally, I don't think back-to-back games are the way forward, but we understand the reasons behind it and the scheduling on this tour.



How the other half lives: Nicki Shaw, Sarah Taylor and Katherine Brunt © ECB

It's great having Nunny (Katherine Brunt) back and playing again. She's worked so hard over the last 15 months to get herself fit. No one's more pleased than I am to see her wearing an England shirt again and playing well. Another addition to our squad in New Zealand is Charlie Russell, who has been playing out here all winter. It's great to have another spinner on board since Holly Colvin has had to go back to school. It'll be a great experience for Charlie as it's her first international overseas tour.

There's been plenty of speculation back home about central contracts, but we're focusing ourselves on our cricket over here. We've got a big week ahead with three one-day internationals to play and we're all looking at what we need to achieve to make this the most successful winter tour ever for England women. We're already halfway there.

It's really exciting that some players may be getting central contracts, but from April some players will be taking up an opportunity to work for Chance to Shine, the initiative to bring cricket to schools, in a coaching capacity. It's an exciting time for women's cricket in England and Wales - it feels like the game is heading into a new era.

For now, though, we've got a series to win here first and that's what we intend to do over the coming week.

Charlotte Edwards' diary of England's tour of Australia and New Zealand is published weekly on Cricinfo