Holly Colvin, the Sussex spinner who made history by becoming the youngest person ever to play cricket for England when she made her debut in the Ashes summer of 2005 aged 15, is determined to help England retain the Ashes as they take on Australia in the one-off Test match at The Bradman Oval starting on Friday February 15.
England need only draw the Test in Bowral to retain the Ashes, but Colvin is adamant that England are aiming for a win.
“We’ll definitely be looking to win. You’ve always got to aim to win because if you start off with a negative attitude you’re more likely to end up losing,” she said on the eve of the match in Bowral.
“We’re also definitely feeling a little under pressure,” she added. “Perhaps more so than the Australians because we’ve got more to lose in a sense. We only need a draw, so you’d expect us to do well. I expect they’ll be feeling the pressure, but we’ve just got to play our game, block out the hype and focus on what we need to do.”
Colvin is one of nine players in the current squad who played a part in the historic victory in 2005; the first time England had beaten the Australians in a Test match for 42 years.
“That all seems such a long time ago now. You seem to picture the small moments rather than the overall picture of it, but I won’t be focussing on that going into tomorrow. I think we’ll just take what we’ve learnt from the recent ODI series and be more patient.
“I think I was fortunate in the last series how I had no idea who I was playing against – all these big names that were coming up against me and I had pretty much no idea. I think that was probably a good thing, so I think I’ll try and take that into account this time. So just play my game, bowl in the right areas and not worry about who’s at the other end facing.”
The small moments Colvin remembers are in fact, Ashes-winning events such as Arran Brindle striking four to secure the draw in the first npower Test in Hove, Colvin’s two wickets in two balls as well as personal memories that will stay with the eighteen-year old forever.
“I remember Arran hitting 100 at Hove, smashing the ball over the top to ensure her century; me on a hat-trick – that was pretty special – as well as my first wicket.
“I also remember stepping out onto the field with everyone shouting. I had been worried that people wouldn’t be supportive of me but they were. I remember the Sussex girls had made t-shirts with Birch and Connor written on them and they added Colvin with tape on the backs, which was really nice!”
Test match cricket in the women’s game is becoming a bit of a rarity because the rankings are based purely on one-day games and all domestic women’s cricket in England and Wales is limited-overs. However this doesn’t stop Colvin from getting excited at the prospect of a four-day long game.
“I think it’s quite exciting in the sense that we don’t play the longer format in our domestic cricket. It’s always good to see two people under the lid and I love the mental battle that comes in the longer format.
“One-day matches are great for atmosphere and can be more exciting, especially in England where we’re getting more crowds in.
“But playing Tests is a different challenge for us and playing the Australians for the Ashes is another level entirely. It’s great to be out here in their country taking them on in their own back yard.”
Acting head coach Mark Lane is yet to name the side that will compete to retain the Ashes. With an average age of 23, the current squad is extremely young, but has a fair amount of Test match experience with Stephanie Davies the only player not to have competed in a Test match.
“We’ve got a young side in general, “ finished Colvin “but there’s a very good balance of youth and experience in the team. It’s the same for the Australians – they too have lost a lot of experienced players who competed in the last series and there’s a lot of young players in their side as well. We’ve therefore got very evenly balanced teams, so it should be an exciting contest and one we’ll relish. To play the best in the world is always a great challenge.”
England women recently drew their one-day series with Australia 2-2; it was the first time that they hadn’t lost to Australia in an ODI series since 1976. Following the Test match, the squad heads to New Zealand on February 20 for a five-match ODI series.
photos Janos Schmidt