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A perfect start

Posted in England Women

It’s crucial to get off to a good start in any tournament and England have done just that by winning their first two World Cup games.

Although overwhelming favourites to win Group B and many people’s tip to lift the trophy, living up to any expectation is never easy to do. England supporters, whether cricket, football or rugby, will vouch for that.

However, judging by the manner of their victories – a 100-run margin over Sri Lanka and a nine-wicket triumph over India – it appears England are coping pretty well.

Compare how England have fared with hosts and joint-favourites Australia who lost their opening game to New Zealand and now need to win every game to have a chance of reaching the final on Sunday March 22.

England coach Mark Lane will be delighted that a number of his squad have made telling contributions already.

Isa Guha

England celebrate another wicket during the nine-wicket victory over India on Tuesday that earnt a Super Six berth

The prolific Claire Taylor has scored 170 runs in two innings, opener Caroline Atkins has hit two half-centuries while captain Charlotte Edwards, Sarah Taylor and Lydia Greenway have also chipped in.

With the ball, Laura Marsh took three wickets against Sri Lanka while Jenny Gunn and Holly Colvin did the same against India on Tuesday.

Having the world’s top-ranked batter and bowler – Claire Taylor and Isa Guha – and the ICC Women’s Player of the Year, Edwards, will go some way to winning the World Cup, but teams who rely on two or three players rarely last the distance. Just ask Rafa Benitez.

Despite Lane having such riches at his disposal, there is very much a squad mentality and togetherness, something I saw first-hand during a recent training session at Loughborough prior to the team flying to Sydney.

Aside from the banter – always a good sign – there was an underlying desire to succeed as a team. Speaking to a few of them, they would trade any personal glory for the greater good of the team. Sarah Taylor said she’d take a duck so long as England lifted the trophy.

After netting for a few hours, the team underwent a vigorous fielding session, instigated by the captain who was unhappy with some drills earlier in the morning.

With assistant coach Jack Birkenshaw cracking balls along the carpet, the players launched themselves across the hard floor, picking up grazes and battle scars in search of perfection. It made me wince!

One drill required the players to complete ten repetitions of a clean stop and direct hit. However, the penalty for any player missing the stumps was elimination from the exercise. Any of them could gamble on hitting another set of stumps from side on, infinitely harder as any cricketer knows. The reward for hitting was an eliminated player could rejoin the game.

The result? All the girls homed in on the solitary stump to ensure they succeeded as a group.

It’s that team ethic which will stand them in good stead over the next fortnight.

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