Stand up and be counted

Charlotte Edwards spoke to ECBtv ahead of the forthcoming tour to the Caribbean

Charlotte Edwards is calling on her team-mates to use the tour to the Caribbean as a platform to showcase their talent ahead of next year's World Twenty20.

England leave for West Indies on Saturday without star duo Claire Taylor and Sarah Taylor - the former is spending the winter away from cricket while the latter is reconditioning after an intense year.

The void left by the pair means the middle order will need to step up and provide a large quantity of runs if England are to be successful.

Charlotte Edwards & Claire Taylor

Charlotte Edwards says Claire Taylor's absence is a chance for other England players to prove their worth

"Having had the success we've had, to take a group of players away with our best player not in that side is really exciting," Edwards told ECBtv.

"Hopefully the girls will step up. From the summer we know they will, people like Lydia Greenway, Beth Morgan and Jenny Gunn are coming into their own now. I'm really looking forward to seeing those girls take their opportunities in the West Indies and hopefully be successful.

"We want to keep winning but I think we are in a really good position this winter in the fact we can give other girls a chance in the side. They will get some good cricket out there.

"We are really looking forward to it. This is probably the most exciting winter I've had."

While the tour represents an ideal chance to blood some of the more inexperienced players, it is also an opportunity to garner some information about playing conditions ahead of the World Twenty20 in May.

Champions England, who have been drawn alongside Australia, West Indies and South Africa in Group A, will start as favourites in their defence of the title which they won at Lord's in June.

"It's a great opportunity for us," added Edwards. "To see the conditions, we are in St Kitts where the group stages are going to be held so this is a key tour for us to get used to the conditions. Hopefully that will bode well for us when we go out there next May to hopefully retain our title.

"It's somewhere I have never toured. I've played international cricket for 13 years and still not been to the West Indies. I'm really looking forward to that. I'm sure it will be a good series and with a few of our key players not playing it's going to be an even contest."

Charlotte Edwards

Having led England to the summit in women's cricket, Edwards is not prepared to relinquish top spot just yet

Although still regarded as minnows on the world stage, West Indies have won many admirers for their crash, bang, wallop style of cricket and in teenage all-rounder Stafanie Taylor have a real gem.

"I've been really impressed by them," said Edwards. "They came into their own in the World Twenty20 - they have some really big hitters. I'm quite frightened of them in the Twenty20 format of the game. In the 50 over they have a lot more work to do."

After a year in which England have won everything it might have been easy for the players to rest on their laurels. Edwards says the opposite is true with her team-mates showing high levels of fitness when they recently met for a training camp at the National Cricket Performance Centre. Motivation, added Edwards, will not be a problem.

"It's easy," she insisted. "I have played a lot of cricket - the first ten years for England we pretty much lost every game. We are number one, we have worked really hard to get there, I want to stay there."