Caribbean challenge: England women in paradise with one eye on the Ashes

After regaining the trophy, Charlotte Edwards' side are testing their young players in a tough tour before the return Down Under

Sandwiched between two Ashes series, England's women's team have a very different challenge facing them over the coming days. Charlotte Edwards' side are in Barbados at the moment for a Twenty20 triangular series with the West Indies and New Zealand in which the action for them starts on Wednesday night.

It is far away from their ground-breaking Ashes triumph earlier this summer, which was contested for the first time according to a points system across all three formats of the game (they prevailed 12-4 having won the ODIs 2-1 and T20s 3-0 – the Test match was drawn).

They go to Australia to defend the Ashes in January. That, certainly, is the team's main focus and not everyone involved in the summer has travelled to the Caribbean. The pace attack leaders Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole, along with Laura Marsh and Heather Knight have stayed at home.

So England have sent a young squad to the West Indies, with untested players including uncapped pair Kate Cross and Beth Langston. This does not mean that the triangular series matters less, though, rather that it matters more, with ferocious competition expected from players desperate to travel to Australia in 2014 for the fiercest cricketing test.

"It is a fantastic opportunity for them to get game experience and to be in and around the squad," Danielle Hazell, the England off-spinner, told The Independent. "We have got some great players in the squad and, hopefully, they can learn from them and then push for a place on that plane to Australia. We are hoping for the young players to push on and take the opportunities leading into the Ashes.

"We've got a few senior players at home injured, so it is a great opportunity for younger players. Like Kate Cross, who is coming on her first tour, or Natasha Farrant, who was involved against Pakistan, it is a great opportunity too. So it is definitely a great chance for these girls to really put their name forward, as competition for places is really strong."

It will certainly be a difficult challenge in the West Indies, on relatively new ground for the England team. "Barbados is a fantastic place to play cricket," Hazell said. "We have been a few times, with mixed success, but it is a place we enjoy coming to play." Hazell is relatively confident there will be enough support for her off-breaks from the Caribbean pitches. "I've been here previously and it does offer something to the spinners, and we have got a few spinners in the squad, all trying to put our names on the flight to Australia."

To earn those precious places on the plane, England will have to succeed against two strong sides. They play each other twice to determine who will contest the final on 26 October. New Zealand and West Indies were – along with Australia and England – in the semi-finals for the ICC Women's World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka last year and so Hazell knows the quality of opposition England are up against.

"We have played New Zealand and West Indies a few times now, obviously they have got some great players," Hazell said. She identified Suzie Bates, New Zealand's star batter, captain and Olympian, having played basketball for her country at the 2008 Beijing Games. From the West Indies, Hazell picked out Stafanie Taylor, the brilliant Jamaican all-rounder, and Deandra Dottin, from Barbados, who was the best teenage athlete in the Caribbean at shot put, discus and javelin before choosing cricket.

England ought to be aware of Dottin. Not only did she score the first century in women's T20 internationals – reached from just 38 deliveries, it is still the fastest on record. On Monday she top-scored with 52 off 50 balls for the West Indies as they beat New Zealand by 23 runs.

If England win, it would be another great step after the glory of the summer. There are signs that women's cricket is becoming more popular, with ECB figures today confirming that more than 60,000 women are now playing the game and more than 600 clubs offer cricket to women and girls – an increase from 90 just 10 years ago. Women's cricket is moving in the right direction, at grass roots and elite level, and it is something Hazell is desperate to continue. "It was great for us to regain the Ashes, all the media hype was brilliant, but now we are focused on this tour and then going back next year to Australia."

All games are live on ECB.co.uk

Tour diary: England fixtures

Tri-Nation Twenty20 series (all matches held in Bridgetown, Barbados):

14 Oct West Indies beat New Zealand by 23 runs

16 Oct England v New Zealand

18 Oct West Indies v England

20 Oct West Indies v New Zealand

22 Oct England v New Zealand

24 Oct West Indies v England

26 Oct Final

All matches will be streamed live on the ECB website.

ODI series (all matches held in Port of Spain, Trinidad):

29 Oct First one-day international: West Indies v England

1 Nov Second ODI

3 Nov Third ODI

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn