Going unbeaten through 2012 was the stated aim and it’s a case of so far so good for England’s women as they completed a whitewash of New Zealand in the early hours of this morning.
Sarah Taylor’s unbeaten 109 and 84 from Lydia Greenway in a double century stand steered their side to comfortable six-wicket win against the Kiwis. It wrapped up a 7-0 drubbing over the three ODIs and four Twenty20s, with the fourth scheduled T20 in Invercargill washed out without a ball being bowled.
They have now won 14 straight games under the stewardship of Charlotte Edwards - herself a centurion having belted an unbeaten 137 off just 88 balls in the penultimate game in Lincoln – and could hardly have made a better start to a tough year of cricket at home and abroad.
This continued development with a young squad is particularly heartening given the hole left by the retirement of the great Claire Taylor in July last year. It also demontrates that the investment in the England Women's Academy is starting to pay dividends, with a bright future very much on the cards.
The only gloom for the tourists on the land of the long white cloud was the question raised over the legality of Jenny Gunn’s bowling action. The all-rounder was reported by umpires after the first ODI in Lincoln and, although cleared to continue playing for the time being, she must now submit an ‘independent analysis’ of her action to the ICC.
A break from competitive action now comes until June brings the next test of their world-dominating credentials when India land for T20s at Canterbury and Chelmsford. Five ODIs follow, beginning with a showpiece fixture at Lord’s on July 1st.
A challenging summer ends with five T20s against the West Indies before they decamp, along with their male counterparts, to Sri Lanka for the ICC World T20. The tournament could prove to be a pinnacle for England, as they seek to regain the title they took at the inaugural final at Lord’s in 2009.
Australia took the crown in 2010 as top-of-the-world England tumbled out in the group stages, so what better incentive than to steal the cup back from the Old Enemy?
England’s summer opponents have just completed a tight series in the Caribbean, with the hosts narrowly coming out on top in the five T20s and three one dayers. Both pose a threat for Edwards’ charges, with India boasting the world’s top-ranked batter and bowler in former captain Mithali Raj and medium-pacer Jhulan Goswami.
20-year-old Jamaican Stafanie Taylor, meanwhile, remains one of the game’s brightest prospects with bat and ball and will play an integral part when her side kick off the T20s at Chester-le-Street on September 8th.
Much to play for in an exciting 2012, then, with England’s women and men both striving to meet great expectations in all forms of the game.