15th June – Yes another cricket tour

Well it is time again that the Southern Stars are on the road again.

For those that didn’t know I recently got back from South America with my father. It was my present to him for reaching the milestone of 70 this year. Plus it was the only continent that he hadn’t been to and I thought that it would be nice for us to spend some quality time together.

I can report that we survived spending 2.5 weeks with each other and really enjoyed visiting the places that we did. I don’t think that both of us will ever forget that trip and for those that haven’t yet been there I recommend it, especially Peru and Buenos Aires.

With a 10-day turn around from when I landed back home, I was off again. This time to Brisbane for the remainder of the Rosebowl that was cancelled due to the earthquake back in February.

I left a cold and wet Sydney to only find the same in Brisbane, therefore the first one-day game was called off due to the ground being too wet. The next day the sun was shining and I was happy again.

Our first couple of training sessions has been to get some time on turf, plus due to the hectic schedule Russ our Strength and Conditioner will be adding a condition/strength component into our sessions. I guess I can see the benefit, but as a player it doesn’t mean that I like it.

Wednesday morning and it was game day. It was Sharon Millanta’s first game for Australia and she became the 120 player to pull on the cap in ODI. Also it was Jodie Field’s return as our captain after an 18-month period out of the game to a terrible hamstring injury.

We won the toss and elected to bowl and we started well with Clea Smith picking up 2 wickets, from there we were able to pick up regular wickets, which halted the Kiwi’s ability to score consistently. In the end we bowled them out for 181 in the 48th over and it was good to get a few of the cobwebs out. I managed to pick up 3 wickets and at one stage I was on a hat-trick, but this was after a few loose deliveries that found the boundary pretty easily.

Our catching was great, with Meg Lanning and Jess Cameron taking some screamers, especially at this time of year.

Our run chase was great, with a slight hiccup. Shelley Nitschke and Leah Poulton posted a hundred run partnership, then we lost 3 wickets for no runs. The two roommates, myself and Jess walked to the crease and were able to finish off the innings by the 32nd over, putting together a 60 run partnership in less than 10 overs. I even managed to hit a 6.

This win has meant that we retain the Rosebowl, with one more match left to play before we fly out to London for a Quad series.

17th June – Goodbye Brisbane, hello long flights!

So what has happened since I last wrote to you all. Well a few of us were fortunate enough to be chosen to be part of a Commonwealth Bank TV thing. I believe what they shot will be playing in their branches, but who actually goes into their branch these days, so I think that I am safe that no-one will see it

Anyway one of the skits was a pretend reality show, I would be more interested in the bloopers real then what they are actually going to go with. It was a bit of fun and we took pleasure in taking the mickey out of Jodie as she was the host! I would like to let you know the result… Rachel and I won the game show!!!!

After training the female support staff and a few players cooked some pizzas and we watched the Origin. To be honest I am not a huge fan of league at the moment, but always happy to watch it when the Blues wins whilst I am in enemy territory.

Our final game was today or should I say yesterday, I don’t know what time it is! We lost the toss and this time we were sent in on a good wicket. Things didn’t go to plan as we kept on building small partnerships and then would loose a wicket. Alex Blackwell managed to get a 50 but it wasn’t until Clea Smith came in at the end and smashed a 20 odd off 10 or so deliveries. Very entertaining to watch, that got us up to a competitive 222.

Similar to our innings the Kiwi’s had some partnerships but lost wickets in clumps, but unlike last game Nicolas Browne hung around with the tail to make it go down to the wirer. We needed 3 wickets and they need over 60 runs that they slowly kept chipping away at.

In the end we got the tail out with them needing something like 19 runs off 4 overs. Shelley, Erin and Sarah all picked up 2 wickets and I chimed in with 3. So today was a real team effort with everyone chipping in with either the bat or the ball.

I think there were a couple of tired bodies and the fact that we were traveling to London after the game our minds might have been focusing on the ridiculous flights that were awaiting us.

At this moment in time I am at the Emirates lounge sipping on my tea and enjoying the food. It is after midnight and we are in Melbourne. We then get on a flight to Dubai, via Kuala Lumpur then a few hours in Dubai then board our final flight to London. Oh wait there is more, we then get on a bus for 2 hours to get to Essex!!!!!!!

Wish us all luck

22nd June – Sunny London

When we landed it was in rainy conditions with the temperature at a barmy 13 degrees, yippee, so glad that we travelled over 24 hours to be faced with worse conditions than when we left Australia.

Now I have been asked mainly by my sister to break up my reports with social side of things and then the cricket, so I will try that.

We haven’t done a hell of a lot since arriving late on Friday night. It is mainly about reacquainting ourselves with Chelmsford as we stayed here 2 years ago. Shops are still the same and there is still not that much to do.

Upon arriving everyone felt so bloated after 24 hours of plane food that over the course of the next couple of days we stocked up on salad and fresh fruit. Fruit is so cheap over here that you don’t need to pay an arm for a banana, but I have been going through the raspberries and blueberries by the boxes.

I have managed to catch up with an old family friend, who was actually mum’s bridesmaid. I went over to her daughter’s place that happens to own three restaurants and her partner is a chef, so you can imagine that the food was amazing.

It was great to see them both and share old stories about my grandmother who they were close to and also the stories of when mum and dad were young and getting up to mischief. Don’t worry dad you secrets are safe with me.

We are staying with the Indians and have had to share training facilities and buses with them.

As for the reason why I am over here, we have just been training hard, making sure that we get use the conditions over here and fitting in a gym session. Also we have been so lucky that we have even had a swim session, my favourite!

As we trained one day we watched the Indians played the ECB Academy side, coached by Lisa Keightley. It wasn’t a high scoring game but it was exciting, as Academy side needed 3 off the last ball to tie, they got one. As they were shaking hands the Scorers had made a mistake and there was still one ball left and with that the Indians missed a simple run out and it was a draw. The one over eliminator was set in motion with the Academy side scoring a very competitive 9 runs. With India next to bat they had only scored 3 runs off 3 balls, but with that one of their batters came in and smashed 2 sixes to win the match. What an exciting game. I bags not bowling to that girl!

The next day it was our turn to play the Academy team. We lost the toss and were sent in. After a steady start Shelley and Alex accelerated their innings and after 12th over they were retired to give Jess and myself a chance to spend a little time in the middle.

After 5 balls that I couldn’t get off strike managed to get my innings moving and again managed to hit a six! It must that weights program that Matt gave me. In our innings a few of us were hitting sixes, which was great to see.

We scored a competitive 158 runs, which was a good hit out. Of course the Academy side came out blasting away and were on the required rate from the start. Our main aim for this game was to give everyone a bowl so we had short sharp spells. I managed to bowl only 1 over which was ok, seeing as one of their players, a little version of Claire Taylor blasted her way to unbeaten 80 odd. In the end they won with one over to spare and as usual our record as an Australian team playing warm up matches against second XI teams is intact as we always struggle to win them.

Oh well it was a good hit out for everyone and gave us a chance to play in similar conditions that we will be facing tomorrow.

Looking forward to actually starting the tournament, but I know that once it starts we will be home within a flash.

Till next time

27th June – The Road Show Begins!

With the tournament kicking off we will be traveling after matches to our next venue. It will be a taxing tournament with not much downtime. Unlike other times that we have travelled here we don’t get a bus to ourselves, it is all about sharing, so we had the Indians for the first leg and now we have the Poms. I have been fortunate enough to keep my usual spot, right up the back!

Our first match was against the Indians and seeing as we have only played them a few times in the past couple of years they are a bit unknown. There were a number of new players that we hadn’t seen much of.

A good start by winning the toss and things continued very well for us by picking up wickets very early. Sarah Jane Coyte isn’t known as an opener but she did extremely well finishing with 4 for 5 runs, too expensive. For a period of one delivery I found myself in unknown territory, out near the boundary, thankfully the player hit it straight down my throat and i was able to take probably one of my first catches in the deep. Don’t worry I celebrated hard!

If it wasn’t for one of their batters who scored 40 odd runs out of their grand total of 63 it would be scary to think what we were going chasing.

Our run chase was clinical with Leah putting the bad balls away and we got the runs in the 12th over only a couple down.

One match down and our next assignment was England in Bristol.

Again we had a good start by winning the toss and bowled fairly well throughout the game. We kept them to 137 a total that we would take any day. The ground was massive as we were playing before a men’s international match, so we felt that we could run a lot of 2’s instead of looking for the boundaries. Erin Osborne was the pick of the bowlers, bowling well and this time being rewarded with a couple of wickets.

Our turn to bat and we had an ok start, but found it difficult to find the boundary, but the scoreboard was still ticking. The only issue was that we kept loosing wickets, just when we started to have a good partnership. We kept to the run rate thanks to Meg Lanning who ended up with 30. In the end we lost by 20 runs and were bowled out in the 18th over.

There were some positives and the fact that we didn’t bat as well as we could of and still got that close means that we still have a little more in the tank.

After another quick change of venues we headed to Taunton, England’s home of women’s cricket, so we knew the facilities and hotel well.

Today was a crucial match for us against the Kiwi’s as the winner would play England in the final. On an absolute road we lost the toss and were in the field. They started off with a bang, scoring 30 odd runs off the first 2 overs luckily we were able to pick a few wickets in the middle overs that stopped their quick progress. The wickets were shared and despite being hit for a couple of sixes I was able to pick up 2 wickets.

We were able to keep them to 146, which we thought was par on that kind of wicket. With a slight change in the order Jess Cameron took her opportunity kick starting the innings but just missed out on her 50. Leah on the other hand reached the milestone and with Shelley made light of their total.

We won with 2.5 overs up our sleeve and we are pumped to play the Poms tomorrow, bring it on!

There hasn’t been much free time in the past three days, but I did catch up with Taryn Mott, in Bristol. It was only 50 min away from her new home and I was so thankful that we had time to really catch up, seeing as we struggle to catch when we are at home.

When we arrived in Taunton, the home of women’s cricket for England we knew our environment, so a few of us headed to the pub to sit in the sun and have a Pimms!

Until next time, hopefully with some good news.

28th June – Move over T20’s and bring on the ODI’s

Thanks to everyone for their well wishes for today’s final and especially those that stayed up and watched the game on Fox Sports.

Unfortunately things didn’t go quite to plan. We were able to win the toss and put them into bat and consistently pick up wickets. The conditions were again a big slow outfield on a slow turning wicket. So with three spinners we were able to capitalize on the conditions. At the end Brindle and Greenway probably got away with England posting 130. That was the par score we were hoping to keep them, but I felt that they got away from us.

Our turn to get out there and with 4 spinners in their team we knew that it was going to be an attack that was basically going to be slow. Our start wasn’t the best, as we lost our key batter, Leah and Jessica and from there struggled to capitalise on the first 6 overs.

Alex and I were able to put on a 70+ partnership, as I swept my way to 43 and Alex 33. The run rate kept climbing and with the big slow outfield I couldn’t find the boundary regularly. I was able to find the gaps so that meant plenty of twos and at one stage we had run 5 or so two’s in the row; it reminded me of one of Matt’s sessions.

In the end their total was enough and it was disappointing to loose as I really had a good feeling about this match.

Oh well we have a chance to change the outcome in ODI cricket. We head up to Derby and the road show slows down a little, thank goodness as I am not sure I could of played 4 games in a row, really testing my old body.

On another note it was Erin’s and Jess’ birthday today. It was a shame that we couldn’t win as a present to them. We were able to sing them happy birthday after the match and share their chocolate champagne bottle. I think that the social committee has organised Japanese tomorrow to celebrate in style. Not too sure whether both of them like Japanese, but I know that the rest of the social committee does!

1st July – Start of the ODI’s

After the final T20 match we headed up north to Derby where we actually have a chance to unpack a little. It is here that we will play 2 ODI’s before heading back to London for our final round match against England at Lords.

We had our first and only team dinner when we arrived to really celebrate Jess and Erin’s birthday. Japanese was the choice and it was great, I tried my first ever raw fish and to be honest it wasn’t that bad. There was another group there involved in Teppanyaki where they throw the food at you. It kept us amused for sometime until they decided to get us involved as well, but I would like to comment that we had it in the bag compared to them.

Tomorrow is one of our first full days off and seeing as we were in walking distance to Westfield this is where we plan to do a far bit of shopping, so Caprini you will be happy.

Today we played NZ who were light on players as one had to return home because her father had passed away of a heart attack and another player went back as the support person….very sad.

These types of situations can galvanize a team together so we had to still play well.

NZ couldn’t of asked for a better start picking up 3/30 odd runs with Nic Browne bowing extremely well. From there Jess (79) got the score ticking along very nicely playing her shots freely and between her and Alex put together a hundred run partnership.

When Alex was out for 41 I came in and with the wicket nice and flat I was able to score very freely. I was having a ball out there with Rach, but then ran myself out for 32. Very annoyed as there was a big total I could have scored, probably Jess was kicking herself as well.

In the end the tail wagged and after a slow start we scored 261.

The Kiwi’s started really well going at the rate required, but then Shell and I came on and with Shell picking up 2 wickets in one over halted their onslaught. From there we were able to pick up wickets regularly and keep them under the required rate. In the end we bowled them out 29 runs short of our total, with Sarah Coyte and Shelley picking up 3 wickets and Erin picking up 2 wickets.

It was a good win, seeing as we weren’t in control of the entire match and was great to see Jess smash them.

Off to bed now, for a well earned rest! So glad tomorrow is free.

6th July – 3 down, 1 left and it is the final!

Since I last wrote we have played 2 more ODI’s and have the final left in Oxford.

Our match against India was on the same wicket as the game against New Zealand, so we thought that it might deteriorate, so our plan was to win the toss and bat. Unfortunately things didn’t go quite to plan, but we were out in the field and were bowling well to the Indians.

India is a strange side, they have the ability to really push other teams, but they don’t necessarily put their foot on the pedal. For the first 30 overs they cruise and then with 20 overs left they decide to play attacking cricket and go at a higher rate. It is like 200 is a good score, but the game has moved on and now scores of 250 may not be enough depending on the wicket.

We did manage to bowl them out with the wickets shared around the group, then it was our turn. We were going along nicely until their spinners came on, putting a lot of balls in good areas and our batters unsure whether to take a risk or not. They applied a lot of pressure and for a moment the scoreboard stopped ticking, this pressure created a few wickets and before we knew it we were 8 down needing 8 runs to win off Goswami’s (Indian Captain) over.

Luckily Australia’s favorite get out of jail shot came to the rescue, a French cut for 4. Then we only need 3 off 3 balls. Easy game now, even with one run off the last ball I thought that we were going to win. Sarah Coyte played a lovely cover drive with the field all in the circle trying to prevent the single, only issue is that she missed ball and Clea Smith, the non-striker came running through. I don’t think the keeper had the presence of mind as she tried to throw down the stumps with her gloves on only to miss by a long way. What a way to win a game, but we will take it even though we didn’t play that well.

Our final round match was at the home of cricket, Lords! On a warm day we walked out to look at the wicket and noticed that they were putting us on an old wicket that looked terrible, two pitches to left was the International wicket that they used 2 days ago, but they didn’t want us to touch it. I guess that we should be happy to just get a chance to play on Lords.

For the first time in a long time England won the toss and elected to bat. We couldn’t of asked for a better start picking up their first 4 wickets for under 30 runs. From here we needed to keep applying pressure to pick up wickets and were able to do so. Even Jessica Cameron got a chance to bowl and pick up her first wicket ever, at Lords! I was able to chip in with 3 wickets at the end and we bowled them out for 168.

We were so quick in bowling our overs, plus bowled them out, so we had to go out there for 30 mins, which was great as we came away at lunch 0/42. Oh and what a lunch it was, a shame that our support staff was around otherwise I would of ordered the chocolate tart.

After lunch Meg Lanning picked up were she left off scoring freely until she managed to hit a full toss straight down deep mid-wicket’s throat. From there Shelley, who had remained quiet, and Alex put on nearly 100 partnership and basically ripped out the Poms heart. We finished the match with about 15 overs left and only 3 wickets down.

A great win, a real team effort set up by Smith and Coyte at the top. Now we just need to make sure that we beat them in 2 days time!

Well when we arrived in London it was like we were let out of the cage for the first time as within a matter of 10 mins everyone was dressed and ready to explore London. I hit the shops with a few of the girls, but to be honest I just wasn’t in the mood to walk around and fight the crowds. After a few purchases I headed home for a quick lie down and then back into town for dinner because I thought that I should.

Since being in London I have managed to catch up with a few people. First Jess Henry who had already a been exploring France and Belgium, who also gave me a lesson or two on Australian War history. The second was Subash (close family friend) who made his way to the ground to watch us. Finally I caught up with Dee who is over here, drinking her way through London and having a ball, sorry Dee 🙂

It was nice to see friendly faces in the crowd and we did had plenty of supporters with Mel Jones bringing over a team from Victoria.

Anyway one more game and we leave London tomorrow and head to Oxford. Hopefully my last email will be full of success, but we will have to play well as I know England will come back even harder.

8th July – Couldn’t send her off on a winning note

I am now back in the rooms of our hotel a little sad that we haven’t been able to send Shelley off on a winning note.

It has been an emotional couple of days with a tribute played last night to commemorate Shelley’s last game. A few of us did an interview on CA TV and watching that and hearing her speak just a few sentences got to a few of us.

This tour had been exhausting and as we set off for our last warm up, Shell and I were excited. We again won the toss and decided to put them in on wicket that had been covered for a couple of hours. Again Sarah Jane came through with the goods picking up a couple of wickets, but we knew that they would fight back and they did. In the end Coyte picked up 4 wickets to top off her wonderful form as an opening bowler and the rest were shared with myself picking up 2, 1 to Shell and a few run out.

Our turn to bat and we so wanted Shell to play well. Our start was terrible loosing 2 wickets in the first over. Both Al and Shell dug in a little but when Brunt picked up her third wicket and it was Shell, a wonderful career was over and that was very sad. Still there was a job at hand and all we needed was a good couple of partnerships. When Al went for 30 odd I walked in, but didn’t really trouble the scorers. From there we had a couple of good little partnerships but as they started they were broken. Brunt finished with career best figures of 5/18, but with 6 over left and us needing 9 runs an over it was still gettable.

In the end we were bowled out 34 runs short of our target. Jess batted extremely well for 75. Everyone was a little flat after the game as it wasn’t the ending we wanted for Shell she deserved more and we weren’t able to help.

Jess Cameron was named player of the series, which was great for her.

After a few toasts in the shed, the Poms wanted to take us on in touch footy, now this was something that they weren’t going to beat us in. I decided to play ref and for a good 20 min everyone got stuck in whilst I sipped on my champagne as I adjudicated.

We have a BBQ tonight and I am sure that there will be a few sore heads tomorrow. I think that I will take it easy and instead watch everyone else make fouls of themselves.

All in all it was a pretty good effort, seeing as we were without Pez, so come on girl we will be cheering you and the Mathildas on in your 1/4 finals.

It will be a different feel without Shelley there next tour, but I wish her the best for the future and now a social life on the weekends!