Rainford-Brent realises her dream

England begin their bid for glory at the women’s World Cup in Australia next month - but for one player simply being on the plane is an achievement.

Ebony Rainford-Brent’s career looked over before it had even begun when, at the age of 19, she suffered a second serious back injury and was advised to quit playing.

The injury kept her out for the best part of three years and has forced her to give up bowling, converting her from an all-rounder to a specialist batsman.

But, now 25, she has defied doctors to return to top-level competition and her comeback will be crowned when she travels out to Australia tomorrow with the England women's squad.

“It’s been a struggle,” said Rainford-Brent, who is the first black woman to play for England.

“I had two prolapsed discs; I was nearly three years out of cricket. NHS doctors said I should not go back to sport at any level, let alone international. But I was always determined to make a comeback.

Ebony Rainford-Brent & Isa Guha

Ebony Rainford-Brent and team-mate Isa Guha sum up England's mood last year

“I spoke to my family about it and my brother said, ‘It’s up to you. You can make a go of it or lie down.’

“I wanted to find a person who said it can be done. I’ve not gone back to the doctors who said it can’t. Eventually I found a chiropractor.

“I remember the day I went to see him. When I went in I couldn’t walk properly. Straight away he said he could see what the problem is and could correct it. From then I have never looked back.

“When I go to the tournament that’s when it will really hit home that I am back. I thought I would never get to play a match pain-free.”

Lambeth-born Rainford-Brent confirmed her return to the top level in 2007 when she was chosen for the quadrangular World Series against India, Australia and New Zealand.

Rainford-Brent - or Ebony-Jewel Cora-Lee Camellia Rosamond Rainford-Brent to give her her full name - was in and out of the side throughout 2008 as England women enjoyed a golden year, recording crushing one-day series victories over New Zealand, West Indies, South Africa and India.

However, she knows she will face her biggest test on the pitch when she comes up against the world’s leading bowlers,.most noticeably India’s Jhulan Goswami, in Australia.

England have been drawn alongside India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan in Group A for the competition, which runs from March 7 to 22.

Rainford-Brent said: “I’ve had a look at few of the bowlers I will be facing, not always from playing against them but from watching them.

“They are some of the best cricketers around, but it doesn’t phase me. I am staying composed and sticking to game plans. I feel I will be at my peak.”