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Getting the red carpet treatment

Posted in England Women

Imogen Gaunt

Imogen Gaunt and Sydney landmark

On Monday morning the team headed off to the Village Green ground at the University of New South Wales for the first warm-up game against favourites Australia, while me and Megs (manager) stayed behind at our hotel to load the luggage van with all our bags. We were heading to The Menzies that night – our accommodation for the duration of our World Cup campaign.

Once the luggage van eventually arrived (half an hour late) the driver watched while we lugged the kitbags, suitcases, suits, pictures and rucksacks firstly from the lobby of the hotel to the pavement outside and then into the back of the truck. I know we’ve been training, but this was a bit much first thing on a Monday morning!

Following a five minute drive to our new hotel, the process was repeated except this time we were unloading and there were about five men who helped us this time!

In record time the bags of 23 people had been unloaded and Megs and I were on our way to the ground to see how we were getting along. We played really well for 90 per cent of the game but lost it by making silly decisions and suffering three run-outs in quick succession. I reckon their media manager jinxed us when he said halfway through our innings, "I reckon you guys have got this in the bag, you’re in a winning position here." Hmmm, if only.

On Tuesday it was our media morning ahead of the World Cup. All the girls had to do player introductions to camera for ESPN, the TV rights holders for the tournament, and have headshots taken in their new kit. On top of that we all had an Anti-Corruption chat from John Rhodes which was very interesting, and timely as the night before I had had a sneaky look and saw that England were 11-8 to win the World Cup outright…anyone fancy a bet?!

We then had a captain’s arrival presser which both Laney (Mark Lane) and Lottie attended followed by an open-media session which involved interviews into Channel 9 for Ebony and Beth about when Australian opener Alex Blackwell saved somebody’s life at Shepperton CC last summer.

Three hours later we were free to go to training - it was a mammoth media session for all the players and for me too! After training we were back to the hotel for a quick change and then a quick dinner as I had to be back to sort out four player blogs (every player bar Anya, our youngest, is blogging from this tournament.) We also had an interview to do with Women’s Hour on the World Cup, so at 9pm Lottie was happily to Jane Garvey about the weeks ahead.

The next day we were all up at 5.45am to be first in the breakfast queue ahead of our second warm-up game against the West Indies. With six teams and management as well as all the officials staying in our hotel, breakfast is a bit of a bun fight! We had an hour’s journey to Campbelltown where we were playing that day.

It was absolutely freezing down there and my tracksuit jacket did not keep me warm! I retreated inside only to be abused by the locals about how weak I was and had I not been in England for the snow?! I had been but was slightly better prepared for it!

We beat the West Indies comfortably and were soon on the road back to the hotel where I filed the match report before organising interviews with The Canberra Times and Lottie and Sarah (Taylor) ahead of our game against Sri Lanka in the capital. Alison Mitchell, the BBC reporter assigned to the women’s World Cup, arrived that night, but as I was busy sending blogs, writing previews, answering emails, organising the World Cup media schedule and organising things for the Friends Provident Trophy and the forthcoming ODIs back home we only managed a brief hello at midnight before we both crashed.

The following morning there was a 7.15am core session on the lawn in front of the hotel. I was excused as I had to go to the airport to pick up yet more media on the 6.25am flight – that’s dedication for you!

The girls then had an afternoon off so I took the opportunity to do Lottie’s latest blog and head down to Darling Harbour for a stroll and a quick bite to eat. It was a beautiful day and the first opportunity I had had to just stroll.

That afternoon we were due at the Sydney Opera House for a World Cup photo shoot. On arrival we were told that there were four shots they wanted to get done – all players, all teams including management, everybody including all the officials and then the eight captains. This was surprisingly done with minimal fuss and we were soon on the ferry to Luna Park for the opening ceremony.

England Women Sydney Opera House

They had laid on the red carpet for everyone on arrival and some of the girls commented that they felt a bit like celebs working the red carpet in their latest Paul Costelloe suits! We had so many compliments on how good we looked in our Number ones and I have to say I think we did turn a few heads! Following a welcome from the Chairman of Cricket Australia the eight captains were called up for a Q&A session with Ian Healy and then we were free to mingle. It was good to meet up with other management that we have got to know over the years from touring and catch up with them.

That night there were yet more blog to do and more interviews and previews ahead of the game on Saturday. On Friday we travelled down to Canberra and then had a training session on arrival. It was good to see three TV cameras, two photographers and a couple of print journos turn up for our session, so after fulfilling our media obligations we set about our business training hard for a good couple of hours.

We had a team meal that night at a local Italian restaurant before an early night for the players and another late one for me! Lottie, Isa and Tails (Claire Taylor) had national BBC interviews to do while Lyd was doing a pre-rec into Radio Kent. We then had Sky Sports News and Setanta previews to do with Lottie while we were out having dinner! Having sorted all those I retired to my hotel room, aka my office to file another player blog!

We played Sri Lanka on Saturday and secured the two points with a 100-run victory. Tails top-scored with 101 and with a quick dash I managed to make it down from the media centre to the player bench to congratulate her along with the rest of the team as she hit a single to bring up the century. She was named Player of the Match and was rewarded with a trophy and post-match interviews. On the way back to the hotel we were doing more interviews with the players.

Ebony was up first with BBC Surrey doing the Saturday Sport Show, then it was Anya’s turn with BBC Radio Bristol. Lottie was up last for Sky Sports News and Setanta again. We had a late dinner but by 9.30pm we were practically falling asleep in our meals, so made the executive decision to return to the hotel to bed!

We returned to Sydney on Sunday morning and were given the afternoon off. No such luck for me though as I had four blogs to send and one to write as well as another couple of player interviews.

We’ve got a team management meal tonight at Nick’s seafood restaurant at Darling Harbour, which I believe is owned by Richard Branson – am looking forward to another seafood platter!

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