England go back to school
After the disappointment of an early elimination from the recent ICC World Twenty20, England women rediscovered winning ways with back-to-back victories against Bedford School 1st XI.
England, still the reigning world champions in 50-over cricket, were knocked out at the group stage of last month’s 20-over tournament in the Caribbean after losing a one-over eliminator to Australia and suffering a collapse to West Indies in their next match.
The two matches at Bedford School - organised as preparation for the upcoming visit of New Zealand - were England’s first since their exit.
Left-hander Lydia Greenway led the way to easing the memories of defeat with an unbeaten 45 in the second fixture - a six-run triumph for the national side, who successfully defended their total of 132 for five.
The opening contest was similarly tight as decent contributions from Sarah Taylor, Charlotte Edwards, Claire Taylor and Laura Marsh eased England to their target - again of 132 - with seven wickets and five balls to spare.
While the performances were what mattered most, Greenway believes the challenge of playing a male team was the perfect tonic for any lingering disappointment from the Caribbean.
“It is just very different playing against guys,” Greenway told ecb.co.uk.
“Even though they are a bit younger, they are still more powerful and hit the ball much harder, but it is a great way of getting us out of out comfort zone.
“It can be quite funny sometimes (playing male teams) as they don’t want to get out to a girl, but the team we played at the weekend were really nice boys and I think they appreciated that we had two really close of games of cricket.
“It was just nice to go out there and prove what we can do.”
Greenway certainly showed her worth, and relished the chance to adapt her game.
“I just wanted to be as positive as I can,” added the 24-year-old.
“I was probably a bit guilty of getting stuck in a bad situation in the West Indies where we lost wickets quickly and I wanted to go out there and be positive and keep the scoreboard ticking over.
“Because they are bowling that bit quicker you have to be able to adapt quickly and that is the main challenge for us.
“That is something we have learnt from the West Indies - that we didn’t adapt quickly enough to changing situations and that is part of why we got knocked out.
“We now have to recognise dangers quicker and react. That is something we are working on in these games where we don’t know the opposition we are going to face.”
Following a year in which England became champions of the world in both Twenty20 and 50-over cricket and won the Ashes in Australia, proving their worth seems a strange concept for Edwards' side.
But, according to Kent batsman Greenway, the recent defeats have given the team a renewed sense of motivation ahead of the series with the White Ferns, which kicks off at Chelmsford on June 29.
In a new development, England's three Twenty20 internationals will be held directly before county Friends Provident t20 games on the same ground.
“Winning is a habit and the last two games were a good start to ensuring we have momentum going into the summer,” Greenway continued.
“I think that after the year we had in 2009, we always said now is a really good challenge for us to stay on top and keep that number one slot.
"Knowing we have not played our best cricket recently has disappointed us and now we are really keen to go out there and remind everybody what we can do.”
England go into the three Twenty20s and five-match one-day series against New Zealand with an unchanged squad of 15.
“Our team spirit has always been really strong and it is good that we have got the same squad as we know how much it hurt to miss out as we did,” Greenway said.
“It would have been easy for people to start pointing fingers, but nobody did that and we stuck together as a team, which should help us over the summer as we want to put things right.”