Learning at the school of hard knocks

England's opening bowler Lucy Pearson reports on a series of tough examinations in week one of the women's Australian tour

It has been been a hectic week. Having played four games in the space of five days - including the first two one-day internationals - we travelled to Bowral yesterday for the third match against the Australians. Any tour can be gruelling, but when you are on a losing run it becomes that much tougher.

It has been been a hectic week. Having played four games in the space of five days - including the first two one-day internationals - we travelled to Bowral yesterday for the third match against the Australians. Any tour can be gruelling, but when you are on a losing run it becomes that much tougher.

We had two practice matches last week and lost them both. I would be a liar if I said that this was not to our considerable embarrassment, but I am always disposed to look for positives. So, Laura Newton was impressive with bat and ball; she grows stronger with every game and is set to be one of the key figures in any England successes, on this tour and beyond. Dawn Holden, in her first game, claimed four wickets against the New South Wales XI, including those of Belinda Clark and Lisa Keightley, Australia's opening pair.

In addition, Charlotte Edwards reached 50 in the second game and looks to be in form. Of us all, she was probably the most frustrated player after the second game against Australia: a change in the way the overs were being recorded left Charlotte thinking we needed 15 off the last two overs, when in fact only one remained. This will probably sound like excuses: after all, a win is a win, a defeat a defeat, and how either is achieved counts for little. But I believe that in every result it is important to take criticism and find something to build on. It must be a habit I have acquired from teaching - all that "constructive praise" business.

At some points this week, my mind has turned to school, wondering how everyone is. Are 2P being as good as their word and working hard for their new teacher? Have my Upper Sixth group handed in their essays, and do my Lower Sixth class finally understand the cross-dressing humour of As You Like It? If it's any consolation to anyone in Britain, it has been raining here. The Aussies have blamed us, but we rise above it.

There have been numerous functions going on, the first being at the British High Commission. Both teams were in attendance - this was the first time we had set eyes on each other. The room was alive with enthusiastic greetings and back-slapping. But not between the two squads - that was more like a hostile stand-off.

It never ceases to amaze me who you bump into thousands of miles from home. Charlotte has met someone from her village in Cambridgeshire; someone came up to Clare "Romper" Taylor and told her she used to be coached by Clare's mother at netball when she was a child; and at a dinner party, Clare Connor met the brother of a head of department at her school. You see, cricket brings us all closer together...

Both defeats in the one-day internationals at the SCG - we lost by 86 runs in the first and by 87 in the second - have been hard to take. Not because the Australians played outstandingly - in fact we have seen them play better - but because we have not performed to the best of our ability. While individuals have put in some creditable performances, those have not translated into great team displays.

So, when faced with a team such as our current opponents, the scale of our defeats suggests we are nowhere near them. That is not true, but as we approached our next game against the Australians, which was due to take place last night, it seemed to me that there was an urgent need for us to play to a higher level; four games inside a week should have reminded us what the game is about. We are improving, but we are not there yet. This week will be a truer test of our grit.

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