England Women are currently in South Africa preparing for a series against their hosts.
The series will feature three ODI’s, the first of which will take place on Sunday, followed by three T20I’s.
On the day that the players jetted off to the Southern Hemisphere we caught up with Somerset and England star Anya Shrubsole to get her thoughts ahead of the series.
Are you confident going in to the series?
Of course we are. We go out to win every game of International cricket that we play but at the same time we know that South Africa will be very tough opposition. They’re improving rapidly as a team and we know that we’re going to have to perform well to get some victories.
There are a lot of familiar names in the squad for this tour. Has the continuity of squad selection and the low turn over of players been one of the keys to England’s success?
I would say so. You want to have a settled squad because that usually means that the team is performing well, but at the same time you obviously want competition for places which we definitely have. We have some very good players who haven’t quite broken in to the squad yet but they are pushing those who are currently in the side to work harder and perform out on the field.
Looking back at last summer’s Ashes series, Australia just came out on top after some incredibly exciting matches but despite that disappointment you must have been impressed by the interest that the Women’s game generated in 2015.
Obviously we were disappointed by the overall result but Australia played more consistent cricket during the summer and they deserved their victory. We can take a lot of positives from it though and I think that during the T20′s we showed that we are a match for any team in the world when we are at our best. During the series we were overwhelmed by the support that we received at every venue and hopefully that is a sign of things to come in the next few years.
Moving on to domestic cricket for a moment, it was a great year for Somerset wasn’t it?
It was an exceptional season for us. We finally achieved what we’ve been threatening to do for a few years now by getting promotion in to the top flight and we didn’t lose a game in the one-day stuff. I was really pleased with that and it’s something that we are all really proud of. It’s a huge step up between the two divisions and we are well aware of that but the players in the squad have the capabilities to do well in this division. We know it’s going to be hard work but I have no reason to think that we can’t do it.
One player in particular stood out for Somerset and that was Sophie Luff. She had a terrific season didn’t she?
She was exceptional, particularly towards the end of the season. I don’t think that she wanted the season to end because she was in such good form! I think she hit three 100 plus scores in the last four games. She’s an exceptional cricketer and hopefully we will see her in an England shirt in the years to come. She’s been in the England Academy for a few years now and I think that last year was a real breakthrough season for her. If she can continue that good form and score those kind of runs in the First Division then people will start to genuinely sit up and start taking notice of her.
The Women’s game is going from strength to strength at the moment with tournaments like the Women’s Big Bash in Australia. A few of your International teammates were involved in that. How did they get on?
All of the girls that I’ve spoken to absolutely loved it over there and have come back talking about how brilliant it was over there. You can see from the coverage and publicity that it got that the tournament has been a real success and I hope that it will continue to grow year on year.
It’s also been announced that there will be a West Country based side in the new Women’s Super League which you must be pleased about.
Absolutely. I think the WSL coming in over here in the summer will be big. I think it will make a big difference to the domestic game over here and it just goes to show how far the Women’s game has come.
This summer will see England taking on Pakistan in three ODI’s and three T20I’s with one of the ODI’s taking place at Taunton. Are you looking forward to representing England on your home turf?
I’m really pleased that the Cooper Associates County Ground is on the fixture list again. We had some amazing support last summer and hopefully we will get the same this year. Obviously for me to be able to play at my home ground once again is amazing and I’m really looking forward to it.
During the series with South AFrica Anya will keep Somerset supporters up to date with her activities by sending us a tour diary.