Cricket Australia

http://www.cricket.com.au/Global Items/Blogs/alex-blackwell/2012/9/26/tea-time

Alex Blackwell


10 days to acclimatise

26 September 2012

Having spent 10 days in Colombo very recently for a training camp, the team has returned to familiar surroundings.

This time around we are here for the ICC T20 World Cup,  arguably the biggest tournament in women's cricket in the current era.

This will be my 5th ICC world event and I've come to  recognise a few minor differences between ICC tournaments compared to other tours. Firstly, in an ICC event we get allocated the yellow playing strip.

This is a favored colour by most of the girls, however the bright yellow we received this time is somewhat unflattering when worn as bell bottoms. As always we've had to source local tailors to take our playing pants a good few inches up and a few inches in from the lower legs.

The second major difference is that we get stalked by security personnel everywhere we go. We are not always aware of their presence, however our lovely policewomen are probably no more than 30 yards away at any given time.

Our hotel floor is guarded by at least three policemen and a police escort vehicle accompanies our bus at all times, with machine guns sticking out of the windows, the car weaves us through the crazy Colombo traffic. A group of the girls were even escorted to the Thai restaurant last night in the back of the paddy wagon.

Another obvious difference is the top eight teams in world cricket are all crammed into the one hotel, so you cross paths with the opposition regularly. I've enjoyed the Heladiv Tea Club in the Old Dutch Hospital precinct as a little retreat away from the crowd back in the hotel. This place has fantastic traditional teas and free wifi!

Training sessions have been intense, particularly due to the humidity but also because of our eagerness to be as best prepared as we possible can be to win this tournament.

I'm already regretting the switch to grey training uniform. Clearly I'm the biggest sweater in the team when I'm the only one leaving training with a shirt that's  close to black! Beepa is not far behind me in the sweat stakes; we compare how hard we have worked by our post session shade of grey. However there are those annoying people like Pez who  despite doing huge workloads hardly even break a sweat and make it look so easy.

Actually the whole group is looking as fit as ever and we are coping well overall with the hot conditions.

sthalekar nets

We are also fortunate to have Stuart Law as our assistant coach on this tour. He has fitted in very quickly into our team environment and is offering a great deal of local knowledge  which he gained during his time here working with the Sri Lankan men's team. I've especially enjoyed going to some of Stuart's recommended local restaurants and hearing stories from his playing days with Australia over dinner.

I'm not sure if it's due to Staurt's influence but we've also be privileged to have Andy Bichel and Justin Langer attend one or two training sessions. Both guys seemed genuinely interested in how we went about our training and provided valuable input. Andy kindly pitched the ball up as he rolled his arm over in the nets while JL hit the best knicks to our keepers that I've seen, both left and right handed.

We were pleased to beat West Indies in our warm up match although would have liked to have performed more convincingly as a batting group. At the end of the 20 over match we practiced an OOPSE (one over per side eliminator) which did not go favorable for us! It was extremely valuable practice however as we know that its quite possible we'll play an OOPSE in the tournament proper.

In the last T20 World Cup our all important first round match against England was decided by an eliminator. There are new rules with the eliminator this time around, with the captain now asked to select a ball from a box of six, ranging from a brand new hard rock to a raggy old soft one. This brings in greater tactical consideration regarding who might bowl that one over on the pitch conditions at hand.

trainign 

Tonight the team celebrated Lisa Sthalekar's number 1 world T20 rankings (bowler and all-rounder) with a cocktail down at the Galle Face Hotel. Lisa's number 1 rankings are very well deserved and as her teammates we have enjoyed watching her performances, particularly over the last 12 months, she has helped us win a number of important series. 

We're off to Galle tomorrow in preparation for our first match of the tournament. We have India first up and the first one is so crucial to get right. In a tournament like this one you can't afford to ease into it. Every game is a must win.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
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