Rainford-Brent relishing return

Ebony Rainford-Brent hopes to maintain England’s recent strong record against Australia if they lock horns with the world champions in the ICC Women’s World Cup.

Rainford-Brent, 24, has a chance to bring her experience of Australian conditions to bear as part of a 15-strong England squad in the flagship tournament for the women’s game, which will be held Down Under in March 2009.

The Surrey all-rounder spent that winter playing club cricket in Australia for Port Adelaide, during the winter that England's women regained the Ashes with victory in the Test at the Bradman Oval, Bowral.

“This is absolutely amazing,” said Rainford-Brent. It is an incredible opportunity for both me and the rest of the squad.

“Going to Australia twice within 12 months is pretty cool, but to get to play cricket on both occasions is fantastic.

“Out of the other group, Australia and New Zealand are always the ones to beat. Although we’ve beaten them recently, they’ll be in the heart of their season and we won’t be, so we’ll need to be on our game if we make it to the Super Sixes.

“It’ll be like a Russian team making the final stages of the Champions League!

“I’ve never played against Sri Lanka or Pakistan before so it’s always a nice challenge to play a new team.

Ebony Rainford-Brent

Ebony Rainford-Brent will hope to improve on the 45 she scored against South Africa this summer

“We’ve just played India and although they can always be dangerous on their day, we are confident we can repeat the result we achieved this season.”

England go into the tournament the form team in women’s cricket, unbeaten in 14 matches. They won 3-1 in New Zealand after a successful tour of Australia.

Then, on the return to England, they beat West Indies 1-0, before thrashing India and South Africa 4-0.

Head coach Mark Lane made just one change to his winning formula, calling up uncapped wicketkeeper Lauren Griffiths as back-up to Sarah Taylor.

England are placed in a tough Group B with three Asian sides, Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan.

The ICC Women’s World Cup kicks off with a clash between fierce rivals India and Pakistan at Bowral – the home of Sir Donald Bradman – on Saturday March 7.

The English women begin their campaign on the same day, taking on the Sri Lankans in Canberra.

They then travel to Sydney where the team are due to take on India on March 10 and then Pakistan on March 12 in the final two matches of the group stage.

If they manage to successfully negotiate the group stage by finishing first, second or third, England will enter the Super Sixes alongside three from New Zealand, West Indies, South Africa and Australia.

All six teams will compete for a place in the World Cup final, due to take place in Sydney on Sunday March 22.