March 8, 2008

Home on a high

Charlotte Edwards
Bubbly on board and Goldie Hawn at the baggage carousel. After seven weeks away in the antipodes, the England girls are back victorious
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Edwards gets a hug from coach Mark Lane after her unbeaten 83 led England to victory in the last game © ECB

We finished our tour of New Zealand very successfully, winning the last two games ,with the fourth one being abandoned due to rain.

In the third one-dayer they got 199, which we chased down with a couple of overs to spare. Squirt (Sarah Taylor) hit 86 and batted all the way through. It was excellent to go 2-1 up in the series with two matches left to play, putting us in a really strong position.

Sunday's game was abandoned after the first innings due to rain, which set up a really exciting finish for the final match. Having been in this position earlier, in the tour against Australia, we were determined to finish the job off over here and clinch our first ODI series win in New Zealand.

After an early night with pizza, we were back in Lincoln for the final game. I won the last toss of the tour and put the White Ferns in to bat. They posted 241 for 9 off their 50 overs. We set about the run-chase positively, with Shaggy (Caroline Atkins) and Squirt putting on 76 for the first wicket and others chipping in. I was there at the end with Jenny Gunn to hit the winning runs and was really pleased that we had risen to the occasion. It has topped off a great tour down under - perhaps the most successful ever winter tour for England women.

It's been a great series, with some really high-scoring games and some great cricket from both sides. We've been lucky to have played the games on a really good pitch at Lincoln, which has enabled the batters to play their shots. It's been great to see where we stand in world cricket ahead of the World Cup next year and has given us huge confidence. But though the tour has been a huge success, we still need to improve in all areas for us to consistently beat these two top teams.

The key to our success this winter was that it's been a real team effort. We've worked hard for each other, and whatever's been thrown at us we have stuck together and always played for each other. We prepared really well for this trip and it's nice to know that all that hard work has paid off.

On Monday night we headed out for a few celebratory drinks, but Monday night's fairly quiet in Christchurch so there weren't too many hangovers for our final day off before heading home! I went into town again on Tuesday to do a bit more shopping - mainly buying souvenirs for my friends and family back home. Some of the girls went off to Akaroa to swim with dolphins, while others spent the day on the beach, catching some final rays.

 
 
It's been great to see where we stand in world cricket ahead of the World Cup next year, and has given us huge confidence
 

We all had an early night in preparation for our mammoth 32-hour journey back to London in economy. We've been given a couple of weeks off to recover, but no doubt I'll get itchy feet after a week and will be wanting to hit a few balls again, so I might head off for a cheeky net.

It's been a hard seven weeks for everyone involved, but hugely successful and something to build on for the future. Competing against the two best teams in the world and winning gives us a huge amount of belief going forward. We've got South Africa and India coming over this summer and we need to keep winning to keep our confidence high going into 2009. That will be a massive year for us all with the World Cup in Australia, followed by the Twenty20 World Cup in England in June, and potentially an Ashes series. Next year sounds very exciting, but we have a lot of work to do before then to ensure we're as prepared as we can be.

I'm so proud of everybody. They have all stood up when it mattered and are developing into mature cricketers. I'm looking forward to taking this group forward and hopefully continuing to be successful.

Sitting in Los Angeles airport and fuming slightly at the lack of duty-free, I was really looking forward to getting back home and seeing my friends and family again. There was a great surprise for us just as we were about to take off from LA - the British Airways staff congratulated us over the tannoy and then, once we were airborne, they brought round a tray of champagne for us all so we could celebrate our achievements once again. It was fantastic.

On arrival at Heathrow we were collecting our luggage next to Goldie Hawn, which was very exciting, and then we were greeted by Sky Sports News, who did a couple of interviews with us - fantastic exposure for us and the game.

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