Charlotte Edwards, the England captain, has told her players to raise their game as they look to strike the first blow of the Ashes summer today when, following three wins out of three in the group stages, they face Australia in a semi-final of the Women's World Twenty20 at The Oval.
Edwards will also be acutely aware that beating the Australians would be a morale boost for the men as they prepare for the main event of the summer which gets under way with the first Ashes Test in Cardiff next month.
"We're backing ourselves come the big occasion. Teams have bad days, but we're still winning games of cricket," said Edwards, who led her side in winning the World Cup Down Under earlier this year. "It's going to be a really special occasion at The Oval. There's a massive carrot, to play in a final at Lord's."
England have been in rampant form in the tournament so far, winning by 10 wickets, 71 runs and 73 runs in group matches against India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
It is a measure of the standards demanded by Edwards, who was made an MBE earlier this month, that even those 20-over hammerings have not been up to scratch at times. "Our batting has been disappointing, but our bowling and fielding is something we've really worked on," she said.
The winners will meet New Zealand in the final at Lord's on Sunday after their captain, Aimee Watkins, struck an unbeaten 89 in a total of 145 for to beat India by 52 runs in the first semi-final at Trent Bridge yesterday.Reuse content