Womens' Cricket: Edwards eclipses Indian spinners

England Women 230-4 v India Women
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The Independent Online
CHARLOTTE EDWARDS carefully constructed a batting platform yesterday that gave England a first-day advantage in the one-off Test against India. Even so, a little more urgency must be injected into the game over the next three days if a slow-motion draw is to be avoided on a sleeping beauty of a wicket.

Edwards graduated to the England side in 1996 against New Zealand and, at 16, became the youngest player to represent her country. She is a correct, diligent right-hander, using her height to neutralise spin, nimble enough to rock back into the crease to probe gaps on the off side. In last year's World Cup she scored an undefeated 173 against Ireland, confirmation that she has a top gear when it is required, but at low, slow Shenley she preferred patient accumulation. In the 84th over, having carved out 108 runs, she snicked the left-arm spinner Deepa Kulkarni and strolled off after a job well done.

This perfectly circular field in Hertfordshire is an idyllic setting for cricket. It is run by Eric Russell, late of Middlesex and England, and unusually it is not based on local village matches but on MCC and other prestige fixtures. The Lord's mafia were out in force yesterday, watching India spin and England graft on the kind of lazy, hazy day that epitomises the gentler side of the summer game.

The visitors won the one-day series against England two games to one, and this Test is the climax of their five-week tour. After the muscular medium pace of Kalyani Dhokarikar and Renu Margaret they relied yesterday on left and right arm spin, trying to tease something from a nice, polite wicket.

The England engine was primed by the captain, Karen Smithies, who decorated the afternoon with some entertaining clouts. She will now need to inspire her bowlers if the steady work of the first day is to be translated into success.

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