Experienced Edwards enters unknown
Captain Charlotte Edwards may be on the brink of her 150th one-day international cap but she admits to knowing little about South Africa women, England’s opponents this month.
The 31-year-old, England women’s most capped player, is due for the landmark in the first ODI of three at Senwes Park, Potchefstroom, tomorrow ahead of as many Twenty20 internationals at the same venue.
Edwards last took on South Africa in the 2010 World Twenty20, but has not played an ODI versus the Proteas since 2008 and not faced them in South Africa for six years.
“I’ve not played against them much in the last four years but what I do know from having played against them in the past is that they’re very competitive in terms of the way they play their cricket,” she told ecb.co.uk.
“We know we’ll be up against a fight. They’ve got some very talented youngsters from what I saw at the T20 World Cup - admittedly only in Twenty20 cricket - they look like they’ve got the base of a really good young team.
“I know we’re going to have to play well out here, especially on a home ground for them, so I think it’s going to be a good series.”
Edwards has played South Africa away in eight ODIs, most recently at the 2005 World Cup, when she scored 99 in an eight-wicket win - giving her an average of 70 in eight innings.
Two of those appearances were at Potchefstroom, where she is delighted to be based for all six fixtures.
“The training facilities here are great,” she enthused. ”I’ve been lucky enough to play here on numerous occasions, so I know it’s a nice place to play and you can kind of settle in, which is great.
"We feel really comfortable where we are and I think everyone’s just champing at the bit to get out there and get under way.”
Although South Africa must qualify for the 2013 World Cup, whereas Edwards’ number-one ranked side will be defending champions, she is not taking these six games in 10 days lightly.
“It’s really important that we hit the ground running on Friday,” she said. “We’ve trained pretty hard this week and once the games start it’ll be pretty much thick and fast from then onwards, so I don’t think there’ll be much chance for training between games.”
With England’s 2013 defence on the horizon, albeit in the contrasting conditions of India, Edwards appreciates the value of blooding youngsters - like Georgia Elwiss, who could make her international debut - but wants to field the strongest team possible.
“It’s a difficult one because you’ve got 18 months until the next 50-over World Cup so, from my point of view, we want to keep the nucleus of the same side together and that’s something that really worked for us in 2009,” she added.
“I’m very keen on us forming a side now that stay’s together for this 18-month period, but it’s important that we do blood players as well. I’m sure there will be times on this trip that we can do that and I know everyone in the squad can play and do well.
“We’ve got a good all-round squad, good depth, so we wouldn’t have any worries about putting certain people in certain positions, which is the sign of a good team.
“We’re out here to win every single game of cricke. We’ll be playing as near to our best team every game, so we build the momentum and keep that going into the winter.
Before the 2013 showpiece is next September’s World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, a competition England won in 2009 but failed to defend successfully a year later.
In the energetic shortest form of the game Edwards knows the youthful make-up of this squad - with Holly Colvin to return from her studies - could be crucial.
“It’s a really exciting tour to be part of and I’m loving every minute of it,” she said.
“There are a lot of young people around, which keeps me young certainly and keeps energy high. So it’s a good to be involved in and there are lots of exciting tournaments ahead, which is good for competition.”
That competition for places is in spite of the retirement of Claire Taylor, the former women’s world player of the year whom England are without for the first time on this trip.
It is typified by Lydia Greenway, Edwards and Sarah Taylor occupying third, fourth and fifth respectively in the ICC ODI batting rankings, not to mention Katherine Brunt being the top-ranked bowler with Laura Marsh in fourth.
“It’s already quite weird not having (Taylor) around but I think it’s really important now as a group that people step up now,” Edwards added.
“I think Sarah Taylor is going to pretty much take her number three role and I don’t think you could get any better replacement in a sense.
“When you’ve got someone as experienced and the amount of games she’s played, she’s going to be missed, but I think the team are just excited now.
“The other girls have got to take their opportunities now to stake their claim for a place in the side, which is a good place to be in for us as a squad.”