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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Proust as Captain Laure Berthaud in 'Spiral'
tvReview: Gritty, engaging and well-acted - it’s a wonder France’s biggest TV export isn’t broadcast on a more mainstream channel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Laura Carmichael in still from Madam Bovary trailer
film
News
i100
Sport
Serena Williams holds the Australian Open title
sportAustralia Open 2015 final report
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

Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing