England women are spending the summer desperately trying to compensate. Their utterly unexpected defeat by India in the only Test match has cast a long shadow over all else that has followed.
Nothing will quite remove the faint embarrassment of it but England, led as always by Charlotte Edwards, are doing their utmost. Having initially responded to the Test reversal by beating India in two 50-over matches, they begin a series of three Twenty20 matches against South Africa today.
England will be huge favourites but will be aware a similar tag counted for nothing in the Test against India. Of the eight previous T20 matches between the sides, England have won the lot.
The most recent was the World Twenty20 semi-final when England won by nine wickets with 19 balls to spare. South Africa’s discernible improvement under Mignon du Preez should not prevent at least two England victories.
Sarah Taylor, England’s wicketkeeper-batsman, said: “We know that because of that loss in that semi-final they’ll come quite hard at us. It should be a good series. It’s good for women’s cricket that those teams are coming through and doing brilliantly.”
The players recognise that T20 offers women’s cricket its future. Not only does it suit their skills more but it also offers them the best opportunity for more exposure.
Although the first two games are not being televised the third, from Edgbaston next Sunday, will be as a curtain-raiser to the men’s match.
Edwards is in prime form, doubtless determined to ensure her side put the start of the season behind them. In the one-dayers against India she made 57 and 108, her ninth one-day hundred.
At 34 her appetite for the game remains remarkable, as does the team’s reliance on her. She can go on for as long as she wishes in this mood but England, in this new professional era, need some of the young stars to shine too.