It was very different. Not in a negative way or anything - it was just there were some people that had been around for a really long time and had done things in a particular way and perhaps we didn't really adapt quickly enough to situations that were thrown at us. Obviously it's well documented about Harmanpreet [Kaur] tearing us apart and Chamari [Athapaththu] in the round game, so we didn't know how to adjust as quickly as we could. You look at our team now and, especially in the last six months, it just seems like any situation that's thrown at us, we've always got an answer. Whether it's Meg [Lanning] out there making decisions as the captain - she's done an exceptional job in the last two years - or batters trying to come from behind and win a game. It's been an unbelievable turnaround for this group. That's probably the biggest change I've seen - the ability to problem-solve as well as adapt when we're under fire a bit.
Certainly there were moments where Harmanpreet was just hitting it over the boundary with ease where I thought, geez, this could be a big innings. It was probably only about half an hour before that I thought, this is good, we won't be chasing that much and myself and Bolts [Nicole Bolton] can get us off to a good start. The game obviously took a pretty dramatic turn towards the back end of our bowling innings, when she was playing out of her skin and playing an unbelievable one-day knock.
It was a pretty sombre dressing room. People were hurting. That wasn't the story we wanted to tell for that team. We essentially had an extra day in England that we didn't want. We wanted to get out of there pretty quickly and then we basically disappeared for a couple of months in the winter in Australia. The next time we got back together was just before the Ashes, in October 2017.
Yeah, it has been a long wait. Even during the [2021-22] Ashes, there was a lot of anxiety about catching Covid in Melbourne and Canberra and not being able to get on the plane and missing the opportunity to rectify some things that went wrong in the last one. So it felt like a long time.
We didn't really talk about it until we were in New Zealand this time last year and there was a lot in the media about going past Ricky Ponting's team's record in ODI cricket. Our whole mindset after the 2017 World Cup was making sure that we played each game in isolation. We would win an ODI series and be 2-0 up, then lose the third game and that sort of leaves a bit of a bitter taste in your mouth.
You could say it's easy to go out there and score runs when your life is going easy outside of cricket, when the wicket is a batting paradise and it's one of those days where things feel like you can do no wrong, but the innings you remember as a batter are the ones that you have to really grind out. Being able to get the team into a position to win a game that people think we can lose, I really pride myself on.
It's been more about just calmness at the crease, whether I'm opening in WBBL or batting in the middle order in one-day international cricket. No situation really gives me any level of stress when I'm out there because I feel like I can control the game a little bit.
Definitely. That game [in Mackay] is a classic example. We were chasing eight or nine an over for the last 15-20 overs, which five years ago you were probably never going to chase down, but given the pressure situations you find yourself in in T20 cricket, sometimes needing ten an over in the last five overs, it's a totally gettable number. The evolution of T20 cricket will find its way into women's one-day cricket and we'll see we'll see a lot more games like in Mackay that day.
I had a couple. I had lunch with him a few weeks ago, before the first Ashes Test in Brisbane, and told the story. I think he got a bit embarrassed but I used to love watching Mike Hussey bat in Test cricket. Just the determination and grit - he seemed to always find a way to score runs. He had to do it the hard way as well. It took him a long time to debut for Australia, but once he got there, he never let anyone have a sniff at the spot he had in the side. So I thoroughly enjoyed watching him play, as well as Adam Gilchrist, who I have a bit of correspondence with. It's kind of nice to think that two blokes I watched and admired growing up, I can send them a text and check in and ask questions. I probably tried to model my cover drive a little bit on Mike's.
It's certainly a bit of a surreal moment when kids say that. Usually my response is, "You can do better than wanting to bat like me, surely!" Which I think they get a little bit offended about. While I do shy away from that public nature of things, it is a real sign of what's changed in the world. Some girls might want to say they bat like me, and that's amazing. But the thing that really stands out for me is watching dads bring their young boys to female games where there's no male game afterwards. There's certainly going to be a lot more of that moving forward just with how much exposure women's cricket is going to get in the next six months with the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games.
She's probably not someone I would ring up about my batting because she probably knows all about it, but Kirby Short I've got a really good relationship with, post her playing career. She tends to give me a little bit of tough love at times, but also some perspective about how I'm going on and off the field, and she can usually read my body language even if we're not in the same country. She's had a huge influence on how I go about my business and the calmness that you see out there on the field. She's taught me a lot, so if I'm ever feeling like things are getting out of control, she's easily one of the first people I'd get on the phone with to just to share how I'm going. She's got a pretty good reputation around the cricket circle of being a bit of a leader and a mentor, so it'd be silly of me not to use that where I can.
I think any games you can draw on that you've got yourself out of the s**t basically and found a way to win certainly helps. But we're under no illusions that everyone starts from scratch. It means absolutely nothing that we've won the Ashes and we had that earlier streak of 26 games, because we're all starting from square one. So if we're not on our game from day one on March 5, then we're already one step behind everyone else. I think the next few weeks will be really interesting to see how it all unfolds and I think everyone's just really excited to get started.
Even the Ashes didn't start well, did it. I broke my face, Tay [Vlaeminck] was out again with a foot injury. It seems that we can't go on any tour without some kind of hiccup along the way.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo