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Archives for March 2009

Team unity key to success

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Ebony Rainford-Brent Ebony Rainford-Brent | 13:34 UK time, Wednesday, 25 March 2009

To say the past few days have been hectic would be somewhat of an understatement, although there was a moment when we thought we had lost the World Cup trophy on our return to England!

The trophy was packed separately as it is quite heavy but when we returned to Heathrow, it didn't come through the baggage reclaim, so we were all stressing that we had lost the World Cup, quite literally. Luckily it turned up 20 minutes later, cue lots of relieved England faces.

Things have calmed down a bit since we returned home, but I've enjoyed every moment since we won the final against New Zealand.

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World champions return home

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Alison Mitchell Alison Mitchell | 07:29 UK time, Tuesday, 24 March 2009

This morning, the victorious England women's team will land at Heathrow airport with the gleaming World Cup Trophy.

Most had a very late night after the win over New Zealand on Sunday, but all managed to roll out of bed - albeit slowly - and into their smart 'number ones' (official team suits) for a photo call at 9.00am the next morning.

I'm not sure everyone felt 100 per cent as they hopped onto a small motor boat to take them across Sydney Harbour for a final photo-shoot near the the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, but no one really cared.

After that it was check out time and the hotel lobby was buzzing with hugs and goodbyes.
The trophy itself was tucked up inside a large silver box and a debate took place as to whether it should go in the hold, or whether they'd be able to take it on board with them.

In the end it was decided the box was too big and heavy to take into the cabin, but it didn't have a padlock and the trophy is rather pricey. Gemma Broad eventually came to the rescue with one of those mini suitcase padlocks.

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England just want to play

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Alison Mitchell Alison Mitchell | 11:39 UK time, Saturday, 21 March 2009

Excitement is mounting among the World Cup finalists here in Sydney, and the message from the captains of both New Zealand and England seems to be "enjoy it".

It was a disappointing to see only three journalists (me included) at the official pre-final press conference at the SCG. The Australian media seem to have largely forgotten about the tournament now that the Aussies are out. Maybe I'll be proved wrong by the papers on the morning of the final, but certainly the nationals and even most of the locals I flicked through on Saturday carried nothing except one slim column I found quoting Australia captain Karen Rolton on "what went wrong".

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Dreaming of glory

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Ebony Rainford-Brent Ebony Rainford-Brent | 13:59 UK time, Friday, 20 March 2009

Sunday is a massive day for all of us - without a doubt it will be the biggest day of our cricketing lives and something we have all been working so hard for.

The majority of the England squad played in the 2005 World Cup when we didn't reach the final and I know that hurt.

To be this close therefore to achieving our ambitions is so exciting - but also a little scary.

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Tune in for the Women's World Cup final

Alison Mitchell Alison Mitchell | 08:55 UK time, Thursday, 19 March 2009

So the Australia game didn't quite go to plan, but here's my plea to all England cricket fans out there who have yet to watch top-level women's cricket - if you've been missing the feel good factor recently following the Stanford saga, the India tour and now the West Indies Test series and 20/20 defeat, start paying attention to what the England women's team are doing.

If you can, stay up all night on Saturday to listen to them trying to win the World Cup for the first time in 16 years, and I challenge you not to become absorbed (if you're reading this from Sydney, come and watch! It's only $15 per adult and $7.50 for a child).

I'll be hooking up with ABC radio to provide ball-by-ball commentary on Five Live Sports Extra and online in the UK, with the game starting at 11.00pm UK time. You can also catch updates from me on Twitter (search for BBCTMS).

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Meet England's World Cup stars

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Alison Mitchell Alison Mitchell | 12:50 UK time, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

The Women's World Cup final is just around the corner and the England players are all very excited about Sunday. I won't tell you what Surrey all-rounder Ebony Rainford-Brent said she'd do if England won, suffice to say press officer Imogen Gaunt looked horrified.

The squad is a young one, with only five players over 25, but a core of eight all played in the World Cup four years ago.

I thought I'd draft a few notes to help people back at home, who don't normally follow women's cricket, get to know some of the England's key players - so here goes.....

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More discipline, more aggression, more fabulous

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Ebony Rainford-Brent Ebony Rainford-Brent | 12:59 UK time, Friday, 13 March 2009

So we arrived in Canberra after a long three-hour drive and got straight into our training session in preparation for our first World Cup match after the two warm-up games.

Our first game against Sri Lanka saw a comfortable win with a 100-run margin. We posted 277-5 and managed to restrict Sri Lanka to 177-7. The highlights were the batters who put in some good performances with Tails (Claire Taylor) cashing in with her first century of the tournament, her third consecutive one against this opposition at a World Cup, and Caroline Atkins with a nice opening 50.

Although we won there were many areas as a team where we felt we needed to be more disciplined, including being more aggressive batting in the last 10 overs and tightening up on the fielding.

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Tougher tasks ahead for England

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Alison Mitchell Alison Mitchell | 12:40 UK time, Thursday, 12 March 2009

After five days of action we're now getting towards the business end of the Women's World Cup. England are through to the Super Sixes, which is the first job they came here to do, and they've done it as group winners.

England and New Zealand are the only unbeaten sides in the tournament so far - in fact, England are unbeaten in their last 17 games now - and the two sides will meet in Bankstown, Sydney, on Saturday, which should be a class encounter. Other teams through are defending champions Australia, West Indies, India and Pakistan.

In case you were wondering, the Super Sixes sees each team plays three more games against the countries who qualified from the other group. There are two points for a win and one for a tie or no result and the top two will go through to compete in the final on 22 March, with the others taking part in play-offs for third, fourth etc.

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England player ratings

Paul Grunill Paul Grunill | 16:25 UK time, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The Test series in the Caribbean is done and dusted and a few of us have put our heads together to rate the performances of the England players (my name may be at the top of this blog but I'm not taking all the blame).

As usual, we'd love to hear whether you agree or disagree.

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Aussies send Ashes warning

Paul Grunill Paul Grunill | 13:20 UK time, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Hands up all those who know the collective noun for swallows. That may seem like an odd beginning to a piece about the Australian cricket team but bear with me.

If you'd asked me just two months ago which team would win this summer's eagerly awaited Ashes series, I would have said England, indifferent performances in recent series and the upheaval caused by the Kevin Pietersen-Peter Moores rift notwithstanding.

At that point in time, Australia had just suffered their first home series defeat for 16 years, going down 2-1 to South Africa, with the Proteas to making 414-4, the second highest successful run chase in Test history, to win the first Test in Perth.

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Lahore attacks overshadow Women's World Cup

Alison Mitchell Alison Mitchell | 12:38 UK time, Thursday, 5 March 2009

While England's men head into the final Test against the West Indies knowing they can no longer win the series, their female counterparts are in Sydney, about to begin their quest for the inaugural ICC Women's World Cup - and they have a real chance of success.

In fact, the women's World Cup first took place back in 1973 and this is the ninth tournament, but it's the first under the auspices of the International Cricket Council, who took over the running of the game in 2005, following a merger with the International Women's Cricket Council.

As in the UK, however, the newspapers and news channels here in Australia are full of the repercussions of the attack on the Sri Lanka team in Lahore. The attack has had a profound effect on every member of the cricket community, and the world's leading women cricketers are no exception.

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World Cup dream becomes reality

Ebony Rainford-Brent Ebony Rainford-Brent | 08:12 UK time, Thursday, 5 March 2009

By Ebony Rainford-Brent, England women's cricket team

The start of the World Cup is finally here. This is something I have been building up to for the last five months since being selected, dreaming and thinking about it every spare moment and I am really excited.

We left Heathrow on 19 February with the one goal of staying awake for the 11-hour flight between London and Bangkok and sleeping on the second leg to Sydney. This was intended to help us cope with the different time zones - but I found it hard to avoid dropping off and had to put up with 'Crumpy', our strength and conditioning coach, poking in me in the ear to wake me up again.

Once we arrived in Australia, we caught up with the England girls who had already been out here for a while playing grade cricket and then went to support them in their last game - as well as checking out some of the Aussie players we might be facing in the World Cup.

But the moment I had been looking forward to was getting out onto grass for our first practice. I had built it up in my head to be the best net session I had ever taken part in and it turned out to be.....absolutely awful! I couldn't work it out. A few days before I felt like hot stuff training in Guildford, but now I couldn't time a ball to save my life.

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Lahore attacks shock England players

Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 06:26 UK time, Wednesday, 4 March 2009

I first became aware of the horrific events going on in Lahore when I received a text message from the office at 4am on Tuesday morning, alerting me to what had taken place and warning us there would be a need to get some reaction from the England camp.

The Test Match Special team were on the same flight from Barbados to Trinidad as the England team and it soon became clear, when we arrived early at the airport, that the players were very much in a state of shock after hearing of the terrible events overnight.

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