It has been an exciting, busy and enjoyable week on tour with the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars at the ICC Women’s World Cup.
After arriving in Mumbai and playing two practice matches before the tournament began, we moved further north in India for our pool matches, which marked the beginning of the tournament proper.
The location of these matches was Cuttack, which is part of the Odisha province, a very different place to the hustle and bustle of such a large city like Mumbai.
It was also an unknown place to us as no of us had ever traveled there before - besides Jade, our strength and conditioning coach, but he’s been every place imaginable on the subcontinent!
Our first pool match was against Pakistan, at Barabati Stadium, Cuttack. It’s always a really interesting opportunity to play against a side like Pakistan, as we very rarely play matches together.
The last time we played an ODI match against one another leading in to this game was four years previous at the last World Cup.
The knowledge we have on each other’s game is therefore limited.
This is both a good and a bad thing in terms of preparing and playing a match.
On the one hand the little knowledge you have means you go in to a match relying on the skills you have as a cricketer and your ability to interpret and react to what your opponent is doing on the go, rather than being able to predict their likely move because you have played them so many times.
It also, however, means that the opposition is in the same position and that the opportunity presents itself for you to play the best cricket you possibly can in the manner that you know works best for you, without feeling pressure to change things too much to keep the other team guessing.
On another note, the opportunity to play Pakistan four years down the track is a really interesting one as it provides insight in to the development of their team and program.
I also think it is a remarkably positive reflection on just how far women’s cricket has come over a relatively short period of time. The match we played last Friday was an incredibly challenging and tough contest.
In saying that, I don’t by any means intend to portray that we were expecting it to be anything other than that. Every match we play at an international level is demanding and challenging as a cricketer.
But the depth and ability that the Pakistan team displayed showed that there has been a significant investment of time and energy in to their game.
We were dismissed cheaply for a score that we felt was below par for the conditions.
A result in part from a few mistakes we made as batters but largely due to the fact that Pakistan bowled extremely well, putting us under large amounts of pressure and never truly letting us settle or feel comfortable at the crease.
They also fielded with a huge amount of guts and determination, throwing themselves around the field at balls that weren’t in their reach - often coming up with great saves.
For me, that is the kind of cricket that all teams aim to play, a style that portrays a large volume of skill, matched with a huge amount of passion and determination.
In essence such a contest against a team like Pakistan is what makes competing so enjoyable and rewarding.
It is also what makes matches entertaining and exciting to watch; we got there in the end, dismissing them for a lower total and starting our campaign off successfully.
The biggest thing for me that day was to recognise that women’s cricket is in a really healthy and exciting place.
Pakistan may be ranked outside the top four teams in the world, as too are Sri Lanka and South Africa - but each of those teams have shown already in this tournament just how much ability and potential they possess, particularly with South Africa and Sri Lanka progressing to the Super Sixes phase of the event.
Importantly, if we keep providing opportunities and challenges to every team around the world, then the future will be bright and will ensure a steady growth and progression of women’s cricket on a global level.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia