Despite going down 3-2 to the Black Caps in the NatWest series, Charlotte Edwards’ side will take heart from their performances during the international summer which included a 2-1 Twenty20 series win.
They must now shift their focus onto the tour of Australia early next year to play for the crown which they won back in the summer of 2005.
Head coach Mark Dobson and his assistant Vince Wells spoke positively to about their first summer in charge and the challenges that lie ahead.
Dobson said: “It’s good that we’ve played New Zealand and great we’re playing against Australia so we’ve played against the best two teams in the world before the World Cup in 2009.
“That’s great preparation for us - it gives us something to get our teeth into - and see what we’ve got to do before the World Cup.
“The target is to retain the Ashes and play as well as we possibly can but at the same time we’ve also got an eye on the World Cup. We’re trying to rotate the players so they’ve all got experience of playing in different positions in the side.”
England began the international summer in style with back-to-back Twenty20 victories at Bath before New Zealand hit back in the third game at Taunton.
“The high point was the first Twenty20 at Bath. It was a lovely day and we batted brilliantly there and it was really good to start with a win,” Dobson added.
“The first two Twenty20s we played really good cricket. The third one which was the televised game unfortunately we had probably our worst performance of the season. The fielding was sloppy and we didn’t chase very well either.”
Edwards missed the last Twenty20 and the first two matches of the NatWest series with a hamstring injury. She returned in the third game at Derby but her partnership of 177 with Sarah Taylor was not enough to be prevent England going 2-0 down.
“When Lottie’s out of the side we miss her batting, of course, and also her captaincy and she’s quite a tough person on the pitch. She does give commands and people respect her and it is difficult for anyone filling her shoes,” said Dobson.
England lost the NatWest series in the fourth game at Blackpool but rallied in the final two fixtures to leave Wells in high spirits.
“The girls have been brilliant to work with. The commitment they’ve put into games and practice has been 100 per cent. We were really pleased to go in and win the Twenty20 series 2-1,” Wells said.
“The Kiwis are ranked second in the world - you could have perhaps got a false picture if you played one of the weaker nations - so it’s nice to see where we are and see where we want to be.
“We’ve competed in every game and there’s been, in most of the series, parts of the game where we could have gone on and win the games and we’ve perhaps not taken the opportunities we’ve had.”
Wells sees massive potential in many of England’s younger players, picking out wicket-keeper Sarah Taylor and leg-spinner Holly Colvin for special praise.
“Someone like Sarah Taylor is such an exciting cricketer and I think in women’s cricket she could turn out to be anyone really,” he enthused.
“Young Holly Colvin who’s bowled really well for us during the tour - an 18-year-old kid - and that’s really exciting and hopefully they’re just going to go on and get better and better.”
Wells recognises the months before the tour Down Under as an excellent opportunity for England’s players to continue their development and for him and Dobson to work with other players.
“Six or seven are going out to Australia or New Zealand, playing on new wickets and developing their game. And also with the tour coming up and the World Cup in Australia it’s fantastic they can get that experience on those wickets,” he added.
“And also hopefully it frees up a few places for people like Mark Dobson and myself to spend a bit of time perhaps with the second tier of places so we get people challenging and pushing for places from below as well.”
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images