Openers vital to England success

Sarah Taylor believes her blossoming opening partnership with Caroline Atkins can help fire England to success at the women’s World Cup in Australia.

England confirmed their status as one of the pre-tournament favourites when they opened their campaign with a convincing 100-run win against Sri Lanka in Canberra on Saturday.

Sussex pair Taylor (38) and Atkins (50) paved the way for that success with an 80-run stand at the top of the order as England posted an impressive 277 for five.

While Claire Taylor drew most of the plaudits for her 101, batting at three, the foundation laid by the openers for her match-winning innings continued a now vital part of England’s success.

Taylor and Atkins’ history at the top of the order is so far highlighted by the 268 they put on against South Africa at Lord’s last year - when they both scored centuries - and 19-year-old Taylor hopes they can add World Cup success to their resume.

“Caroline and I really enjoy each other’s success and since we have started opening together I think we have definitely got to know each other’s game really well,” Taylor said.

Sarah Taylor & Eshani Lokusooriya

Sarah Taylor concentrates on the task in hand during her 80-run partnership with Caroline Atkins

“This is common throughout the squad – we all know our individual roles and that helps us perform. We just go out and enjoy ourselves.”

England face India in their second game tomorrow knowing that victory will almost certainly seal their place in the Super Sixes.

Last summer India were England‘s final opponents of the international season and the hosts continued their dominance of 2008 by thrashing the visitors 4-0 to go 14 ODIs unbeaten.

However, India won their World Cup opener against Pakistan by 10 wickets against Pakistan and Taylor knows victory will be hard to come by. The game, televised live from the North Sydney Oval, has been surrounded by hype but Taylor is relishing the challenge.

She said: “India are a good side and we have never doubted that. We are focussed only on our game and we know if we play to our best we are unbeatable, and we just want to play at the top of our game to ensure we get those points to take us through to the next stage.”

England bowler Jenny Gunn will be free to play in the game despite being reported to the International Cricket Council for a suspect bowling action.

The report came following England’s opener against Sri Lanka, who also had off-spinner Rose Fernando reported.

Taylor added: “I am really excited about the game. We had a pretty successful summer against them last year but that doesn’t mean anything now and we are obviously looking for a win so we can add another two points to our tally and take that through with us to the Super Six stage.

Jhulan Goswami

India's Jhulan Goswami will be out to stop England's charge when they meet in Sydney

”The fact that it is on television only excites us all the more. You always want to raise the profile of women’s cricket and to raise the profile all over the world. We would always like to be on television every game we play, but India-England is a big game and hopefully we will do women’s cricket justice.”

Taylor has had a good run in the side since her international debut in 2006 and loves pitting herself against some of the best bowlers in the game. Jhulan Goswami, the former number one bowler in the world and considered by many to be one of the fastest, will line up against England tomorrow, but the 19-year-old is not fazed.

“I try not to think of the bowlers as who they are and what they have achieved, but instead I try and focus on the white ball coming at me and that I want to put it into certain areas," Taylor added. "That is my approach to facing different bowlers.”

Anjum Chopra, the capable Indian batsman who Taylor has faced in the past, was dropped for India’s tour last summer but has forced her way back into this World Cup squad.

Taylor said: “Anjum is a solid batter and I am glad that she is back in the squad as she is a person that lesser experienced players can look up to in a World Cup situation. It is good for them but it will be hard work getting her out but I’m sure we are capable of that."

Taylor admits England's opening victory did not come in the style that they would have liked or have become used to over the past twelve months.

“We were slightly off the ball on Saturday in terms of our fielding and that is something we want to step up even more especially as we are live on television," she continued.

"Hopefully there’ll be people back home watching us and we want to put in a good performance for them. We know we can play much better than we did and that’s what we’re all aiming for tomorrow.

“We want to prove a point and improve in every discipline for tomorrow’s game.”