Colvin keeps eye on opposition

Holly Colvin

Spinner Holly Colvin took 18 wickets during a successful summer for England women

James Bond is the talk of the town at the moment and Holly Colvin is taking a leaf out of 007's book by undertaking a spying mission of her own Down Under.

The 19-year-old is currently in Sydney, having signed as New South Wales Breakers' first ever overseas player, and is ideally placed to glean information on potential opponents ahead of next March's World Cup which will be held in Australia.

"It's a great experience for me," Colvin told ecb.co.uk. "I want to get match practice to help prepare for the World Cup.

"I will get the chance to bowl against the Australian batters so I can try and find out any weaknesses.

"The wickets are harder out here. They spin more because they are more dry.

"The batters will look to use their feet more against me so I will need to vary my flight a lot more.

"Bowling in the nets at Loughborough is fine, but it doesn't beat being out in the middle when you have to contend with different conditions and pressure. It's so different.

"I will get the chance to bowl against some of the best players in the world."

The Breakers' season starts on November 29 with a game against Queensland, followed a week later when Western Australia, who have Colvin's England team-mate Jenny Gunn in their ranks, are the opposition.

However, despite being one of the leading spin bowlers in women's cricket, Colvin is not taking her place for granted, particularly as Breakers already have world number one all-rounder Lisa Sthalekar, a fellow spinner, in their squad.

"I feel really privileged that they want me and think I can add to their side," she said.

Holly Colvin

Colvin celebrates taking another wicket as England continued their domination of India

"As their first overseas player, I do feel under a little pressure to perform though. They already have Lisa so I'm going to work as hard as I can to get in the side for the start of the season."

Colvin landed in Australia at the end of September and has been playing for club side Northern Districts and training with her state side.

They are coached by Richard Bates, the man who handed the Sussex girl her England debut in 2005.

"It was great seeing Batesy again," said Colvin, who deferred her Natural Sciences degree at Durham University to travel to Australia.

"Batesy approached Clare Conner (ECB head of women's cricket) and said they wanted another spinner, so I jumped at the opportunity. The first training session I had with him was really funny - it was like old times.

"He is so structured. It all came flooding back."

One memory of her time with Bates, that of making her first Test appearance, is still fresh.

"I was in the right place at the right time," she recalled, modestly.

"The Australians had Shelley Nitschke, a left-arm spinner. The game was at Hove, my home ground, they asked me to come along and bowl in the nets.

"I then went home and didn't think anything of it until Batesy called and asked me to play. I played all four days - it was all very weird.

Holly Colvin

Although chances have been limited, Colvin has chipped in with the bat at crucial moments

"It was surreal, but being so young I didn't know who I was bowling at."

Although still a teenager, Colvin has become a firm fixture in an England side that crushed West Indies, South Africa and India last summer.

Colvin contributed 18 wickets at less than nine runs apiece, form which saw her unveiled as the fourth best bowler in one-day cricket when the ICC released their new rankings for women.

"I was so surprised by that," she said. "I was really chuffed by it. We came away from a great series with South Africa and India but I did not think I would be up there."

While Colvin will get ample chance to hone her bowling, she is looking forward to improving with the bat too.

"I also want to get some time in the middle," she said. "I've been batting quite high for my club. I am trying to work hard on my batting.

"You don't get many chances batting down the order with England, but when you do get to to bat, it's important to contribute.

"It's not just cricket though, I'm learning life skills. It's great preparation for university too, living away from home. It's been a big change but I'm loving it."