Counting down to Sri Lanka

Posted in England Women

Imogen Gaunt

Imogen Gaunt © Getty Images

After a week in Australia we’re really starting to settle in and get used to our surroundings.

Sydney is really gearing up for Mardi Gras on March 7 – a fantastic spectacle apparently but we’ll be in Canberra for our first World Cup game against Sri Lanka. The jetlag is almost gone and I am pleased to report that we’re all now managing to sleep right through!

We’ve had a busy week with five training sessions and our first warm-up match against New South Wales Breakers on Friday. They are now coached by former England coach Richard Bates who took England to their last World Cup.

We cruised to victory, bowling them all out for 99 and then hitting the winning runs after a flying start from Sarah Taylor and Caroline Atkins who hit 59 before retiring to make way for Lottie and Tayls to have a chance in the middle too. Lottie fell to an lbw decision and then Ebony, who replaced her in the middle, also got out, so it was up to Lydia and Tayls to see us home.

We’ve been doing some interviews and various media activities too in the lead-up to the World Cup.

On Tuesday I took three players - Lottie, Ebony and Laura Marsh while the rest were all in the gym - to the North Sydney Oval, where the final will be held, to meet the tournament ambassadors and take part in a photo shoot and do some interviews.

We were expecting interview legend Michael Parkinson to be there but were informed on arrival that he was actually flying home that day! What a shame – we were under strict instructions from Jack Birkenshaw to ask him out for dinner!

We did however meet a lot of Australian celebrities who are going to play a part in supporting this inaugural ICC Women’s World Cup. My main job that day was to hold up the backdrops as the breeze kept blowing them over – such a glamorous life!

On Wednesday the girls had a recovery session with a difference. After training in the morning we all headed down to Bondi Beach to 'recover' in the sea. Given that the management team are also training we felt it was appropriate for us to have a dip too. The waves were so strong, but so much fun, so a good half hour was spent riding the waves and frolicking in the ocean.

That afternoon we spent doing more interviews with Isa, Lottie and Ebony before we had our own Pancake day (English time!). Gemma Broad, our analyst, put her culinary skills to good use to cook us some gnocchi and pesto for a very Genovese dinner.

We had our first and only day off of the tour on Saturday. For players anyway – the management had meetings and emails to get through before they could enjoy themselves.

After a brief shop in the morning to buy a sunhat, something I forgot in my packing, we headed down to Bondi again for a spot of sunbathing. It was my first time driving in Australia and it was quite fun driving on these really wide roads, which are like freeways. For the first time since we’ve been here though the roads were rammed and it felt a bit like driving in London.

After a few hours on the beach, another paddle and, for some, a brief appreciation of what the beach had to offer (!), we headed back into the city for a management meal in honour of Shawsy (Paul Shaw) who was leaving the next day.

He’s been out working with the girls and assisting Laney and Jack for the first week of the tour. I shared a fresh seafood platter with Crumpy (Ian Crump, our S&C coach) who assured me it was very healthy – “low in fat, high in protein” - so we both got stuck into a massive plate of calamari, octopus, king prawns, salmon, lobster, crab, mussels and oysters.

After an early training session on Sunday, Gemma and I bravely headed to the next ground to check out the facilities. Our sat nav didn’t recognise the location and it took us well over the estimated half an hour to get there.

Even the locals didn’t seem to know where we were going, so we had a quick high five on arrival before we got down to business. That afternoon I set about writing my blog and organising the players with their various blogs including Sarah Taylor who’s doing a video diary for ESPN Sports.