20th March, 2009
In two day's time we are going to take on New Zealand in the World Cup Final. No one from our camp has ever been in this position before now. It's a really exciting prospect that presents an opportunity to fulfil lifetime ambitions.
On that note, it's really hard not to think about the enormity of this weekend, but if we remind ourselves how we got here, it gives us confidence of enjoying another One Day International together.
|Caroline hits out against the West Indies|
It was New Zealand we faced to start our Super Sixes campaign. We batted first and made 201-5 on a two-paced pitch with a slow outfield. I was happy with my performance while I was at the crease but should have gone on after making 36 off 56 balls. Lottie held most of our innings together with her 60 and Beth and Jen were fantastic at the death to boost our score past 200.
New Zealand's reply fell behind the run rate, however with their captain anchoring the innings and some big hitters still to come in, we were definitely on our toes and on top of our game. There were some great catches by Isa Guha and my two catches weren't bad either (even if I do say so myself)! It was a determined team performance that reduced New Zealand to 168 all out, which left us needing just one win from our last two games to secure a place in the final.
We played West Indies next at a different venue, but with similar challenges in the wicket where some would keep low and some would bounce through. We batted first and made 236-7. We got off to a good start, lost our run-rate for a while and then accelerated in style with a brilliant knock from Claire Taylor (64). I didn't enjoy my time at the crease having frustrated myself with slow patchy runs (50 off 94 balls), but I came to the party in the field with a run-out and a catch to help support the bowlers who dismissed West Indies for 90. That gave us the two points and the guaranteed place in the final with one more Super Six match remaining.
Our schedule has been pretty full on, which makes relaxing between matches very important. That’s why when I discovered that our media manager had passed herself of as me (not true – Immi) in one or two cafes and restaurants, I thought it would be funny for us to swap clothes for our team meal and see who else we could fool (see photo below). It was chalk dressed as cheese and everyone spotted it straight away. Immi is a well-presented girlie dresser whereas I often commit fashion crimes by going for something more ‘comfortable’. I definitely got the better end of the deal getting to wear a nice skirt and top while Immi wore my salmon golf shirt (it looks better on me by the way), casual jeans and the ultimate fashion crime of trainers too! It got a few laughs and has inspired me to go skirt shopping when I get home.
Regardless of such efforts to distract myself, I was finding it difficult to think of anything other than Sunday’s match, yet it was time to take on the hosts Australia in a match that was highly unlikely to change their fate of a 3rd/4th playoff and one that could not prevent us being in that final on Sunday. We batted first and were off to a good start until I stepped across a straight one and was out lbw for 6 runs. My team mates followed me back to the pavilion one by one as only one significant partnership developed between us and we finished all out for 161 in the last over. Australia batted with positive intent and continued to play the better cricket all day that gave them a victory by eight wickets. We had put in our worst performance in a match that had little bearing on this tournament. Now let’s hope the match that has the biggest bearing on this tournament brings out our best performance.
As we are at the business end of this tournament, I have fewer and fewer stories to share from off the pitch. However, it was on the pitch that my brother won an LG phone during the interval in the high catching competition. Still, he would rather have seen us win than be going home with a new handset! Now I’m not usually superstitious but I have asked my family (below) not to sit in the same seats they spent Thursday in because we want Sunday to go very differently. Also, I will not be swapping clothes with anyone the night before and finally, I have accepted that all I can think about is the final so rather than seek distractions I think it’s best for me to just think runs runs runs.
There is one rest day and one practice day remaining, only time will tell who brings their best game and gets to lift the World Cup Trophy at the end. I hope we all do ourselves and all our supporters proud. Our team effort will certainly be at 100%, but it is winning that will mean everything.
Caroline made her England debut in the Ashes series in June 2001 and has to date played in seven Tests, 39 One Day Internationals and seven Twenty20 Internationals. Her ODI top score of 145 came when she shared a record opening stand of 268 with Sarah Taylor at Lord's.
© Cricket World 2009