Lane keen on Indian takeaway

Mark Lane & Charlotte Edwards

Mark Lane and Charlotte Edwards leave for Bangalore on Sunday

Playing in India is one of the most difficult challenges a cricketer can face - just ask Ricky Ponting, whose Australia side are currently being put to the sword on the sub-continent.

However, England women's coach Mark Lane remains undeterred as he prepares to take 11 of his all-conquering squad to Bangalore for an intense training programme at the Global Cricket School.

"Jack Birkenshaw [assistant coach] put it forward as an idea as he's been out there a few times," Lane told

"He thought it would be a great opportunity to do something different and Clare Connor [ECB head of women's cricket] was totally supportive of the trip."

Having overwhelmed West Indies, South Africa and India this summer en route to clocking up a record equalling 14-game unbeaten run, England's focus is already on 2009 which could prove to be a watershed year for women's cricket.

While the World Twenty20 is a wonderful chance to showcase the game on home soil, it is the World Cup in Australia which will determine how good Lane's side actually are.

Playing conditions in India and Australia could hardly be more different but Lane insists the trip to the cricket-mad country will be wholly worthwhile.

"It's a really full-on schedule with a couple of games too," he explained. "It will be a fantastic experience for everyone involved. We want to see how they perform under pressure in a different environment. We want to take them out of their comfort zone.

"They are going to play on slow, low, turning wickets and will learn how to bat against spin bowling and hitting the ball into gaps. That's important as rotating the strike is crucial in women's cricket."

The trip will be the first time wicketkeeper Lauren Griffiths has joined up with the squad since Lane named her in the 15-strong party for the World Cup.

Griffiths is the only new face, called up to provide cover for Sarah Taylor at the expense of the unfortunate Lynsey Askew.

Mark Lane & Jack Birkenshaw

Lane celebrates with Jack Birkenshaw at the end of the summer that saw them undefeated in 14 one-dayers

"It was a tough decision but I felt we had to have back-up for Sarah which meant Lauren came in," said Lane. "She has an excellent pair of hands and is a really tough character.

"I told Lynsey that this is only one tournament and it doesn't mean she won't play for England again. We have the World Twenty20 in England next year; there's a good chance we'll want her back in for that."

Such tough selection problems are a coach's dream. Delivering the bad news to the player missing out might not be high on Lane's wish list, but having a hungry squad all keen to press their claim is key to a successful side.

"The competition for places is so strong at the moment," he added. "That's something we have wanted for so long. People don't want to miss out, that's probably why our physio Sue Hughes had one of her quietest ever summers.

"It's where we want to be, though. We want the players to be on edge on the day of the game, not knowing if they are going to be in the side or not. That means they will all be working hard."

While no-one in the squad is 'untouchable', Claire Taylor, recently unveiled as the best batter when the International Cricket Council women’s rankings were launched, can be pretty certain of her place.

"I was chuffed when I saw that Tayls was number one in the world," said Lane, who has coached the premier batter for a decade. "Having worked with her for 10 years, it makes all those wet Tuesday evenings worthwhile. To be recognised as the world number one means so much to her."