Shrubsole and Elwiss get India taster
Paul Jarvis stood behind the nets at the Bombay Gymkhana in Mumbai watching Anya Shrubsole, the England Women allrounder, have a bat. She was being tested mostly by a battery of local spin and medium-pace bowlers, but there was a familiar face too - her international team-mate Georgia Elwiss.
With the next Women's 50-over World Cup scheduled for India in March 2013, the England pair were in India earlier this month to get used to the conditions, including the heat, under the watchful eye of Jarvis, the former England quick who is now the women's bowling coach. "[We wanted] to give them more experience of Indian conditions from a bowling perspective and from a batting perspective as well, to give them more chances to face spin bowlers especially," Jarvis said. "And just to experience India and the climate and how difficult it is to play cricket over here."
Shrubsole, 20, has been in the England set-up for four years now and has toured India twice, but has struggled with injuries. The 10-day trip to India was therefore part of her ongoing fitness programme as well. Elwiss, who made her England debut in October 2011 against South Africa, has never been to India, so this was her chance to learn how to bowl in these conditions.
According to Jarvis, the trick in India is to bowl straight, keep the ball pitched up and vary your pace. "We have been looking at variations," Jarvis said. "Obviously, making sure they get their stock delivery honed but also slower deliveries, yorkers and just generally working out their game plans - when it's best to bowl these particular deliveries."
Perhaps more intriguingly for Elwiss and Shrubsole, the hot, dry conditions have allowed them to experiment with bowling reverse swing for the first time. "English conditions don't always suit reverse swing, unless it's late in the summer when its drier," Jarvis said. "So they have been quite excited by trying all these different things and seeing them work. Hopefully, they will have a few more tools in their bag for when they play their next game."
The heat has also been a test for the players, especially coming from England, which is still quite cold. "It [the heat is tough because it saps your energy," Jarvis said. "That then affects your concentration. So it's been a good test for the girls to understand that the Indian conditions are tough to perform in and perform consistently."
The regimen for the players has been a daily diet of cricket, though there a limited amount of bowling they are allowed to do on their program, so working on their batting has only been a big part of their training here. They did get Sunday off though and managed to sneak in the Pune v Mumbai IPL game. "[It was] something I'd never experienced from a spectator point of view," Jarvis said. "They razzmatazzed it up. Lots of noise. Lots of music. Horns blowing. It is a shame that Mumbai Indians didn't win."
The trip is the first of its kind for Jarvis but he said the ECB plans to do more of the same in the future. For example, the women's academy squad just went out to South Africa for two and a half weeks. "We are trying to give the girls a whole rounded cricketing experience," Jarvis said.
Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo