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November 14, 2000
England's team for the CricInfo Women's World Cup is the fittest and best-prepared England team yet, according to captain Clare Connor.
She was speaking after the team's arrival in Christchurch today.
The side will play three One-Day Internationals against New Zealand, starting in Oamaru on Sunday and then Tuesday and Wednesday in Timaru.
It will begin its training in Christchurch tomorrow.
England had targeted reaching the semi-finals of the tournament and once it got to that point it could then reassess its goal for the tournament, she said.
The side's preparation had been helped by a Sport England grant from the national lottery in a way that had not been possible before.
Players had access to individual coaches for their preparation and it had all been paid for from the grant.
"It has made a massive difference for us. We've been able to have two or three sessions a week with individual coaches in better facilities," she said.
The team varies in age from 16-36.
"We've got three teenagers, three players who are at University and three who played in the 1993 World Cup win.
"You couldn't get a more diverse group of players," she said.
Having been in New Zealand earlier this year had been an advantage for the side. Although they were only in the North Island they had gained a feel for New Zealand and the possible wickets they can expect to strike in the tournament.
"We can't really look at it as coming down here in our winter. Most of the girls were playing two months ago and to say that is just making excuses," she said.
The team would be a disciplined unit.
"The only thing that will stop us is believing we can't do it. We have to trust each other," she said.
Connor had no problems with the tournament being held at one venue at Lincoln University. England will play all its games on the two grounds at Lincoln. Other countries have at least one game at Hagley Oval in the centre of Christchurch.
"It's fantastic that we are in one place. In 1997 in India we travelled the length and breadth of the country and during the tournament had six internal flights as well as having an all-night train trip to play the next day.
"It was a battle to stay with the cricket," she said.
Interest in the tournament had been high at home and there had been great media interest before the side left on Sunday (England time).
The team will practice at Hagley Oval on Wednesday and Thursday and will play a practice game against a Canterbury XI at the Christ's College ground on Friday.
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