Cricket: England ready to start World Cup bid, says Wyatt
DANIELLE Wyatt hopes practice will make perfect as England's women prepare to launch their World Cup defence in India.
The favourites for the 50-over competition open their Group A campaign against Sri Lanka at Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium tomorrow.
England are chasing a fourth victory in the tournament, having won the inaugural event in 1973, 1993 and in Australia four years ago.
All-rounder Wyatt, from the Westlands in Newcastle, and the rest of the 15-strong squad have been meticulous in their preparations, under the watchful eye of coach Mark Lane.
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A 10-day training camp in the India city of Pune was followed by two warm-up matches against South Africa and New Zealand.
And it appears no stone has been left unturned in England's quest to justify their tag as favourites and cement their ranking as the world's number one side.
"The training camp was hard work, but good fun," said 21-year-old Wyatt, who was part of the side which beat India 3-2 in last summer's one-day series.
"We had a lot of net practice batting against top-quality spinners and seamers who would bowl at us all day everyday if we asked.
"We also worked through scenarios out in the middle and played a couple of games among ourselves and the net bowlers to get us used to conditions and to fine-tune our skills.
"The warm-up games were worthwhile. We beat South Africa by 51 runs and lost by 13 to New Zealand, but everyone was given a run-out, which was beneficial."
Wyatt made 22 and eight with the bat in the practice matches, and also produced economical spells with her off-spin.
She is hoping that is good enough to earn her a place in the side for the first match against a Sri Lanka team who could rightly claim to be rusty in the 50-over format.
They haven't played a one-day series since April 2012 when they lost 2-1 to the West Indies in the Caribbean – and their World Cup fortunes have been moderate.
Sri Lanka reached the quarter-finals in 1997, but picked up the wooden spoon in the 2009 tournament in Australia after losing all three group games and the seventh-placed play-off to South Africa.
Wyatt, though, is not under-estimating Shashikala Siriwardene's side.
"Sri Lanka are a good team. We're going to treat it like any other game," she said.
"Every match is important in tournament cricket. There is tough competition for places, which is excellent for the team, and we can't wait to get the World Cup started."
England's other group opponents are hosts India and the West Indies, who open the event with a day-night match at the Brabourne Stadium today.
England play India at the same venue on Sunday, and take on the West Indies at Mumbai's Bandra Kurla Complex on Tuesday.
Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Africa will contest Group B.
The top three from each section move through to the 'Super Six stage', with the leading duo then progressing to the final, which is being held on February 17 at the Brabourne Stadium.