DANNI WYATT: BRING ON THE ASHES!

This post was originally published on All Out Cricket on July 12th 2013.

In her first column of the summer for All Out Cricket, England Women’s Danni Wyatt talks debuts, selection and poshness, and looks forward to the Women’s Ashes.

This is my first column of the summer and my first since captaining a team in the six-a-side tournament at All Out Cricket’s Garden Party. My team did well, but we lost to Amy Jones’ lot in the semi-final (although it should be noted that I took a great catch, diving at cow corner). Next year we’ll win it.

While the England boys were preparing for the first Ashes Test we’ve been playing Pakistan in two ODIs and two Twenty20s. And since then the squad for the Ashes has been announced – I’m happy and relieved to say I’m in it!

I had a phone call on Saturday from Sarah Pickford, the head of selectors. We all knew there was a selection meeting Friday night so I was quite nervous when I saw her name come up on my phone. She told me I’d been named in the squad of 18 that’s going to be cut down to 15 in August. There’s plenty of cricket between now and then for me to make a name for myself by getting runs and wickets to make sure I’m playing in the Test match at Wormsley on August 11.

It’s great when the England squad comes together. As I’m part of the MCC Young Cricketers programme I’m often with Sarah Taylor, Amy Jones, Tammy Beaumont – and all the England girls play against each other most weekends so we see each other a lot. But coming back together as a squad is always an exciting time. Before the Pakistan series we all met at Loughborough, the banter was flying around as usual and we had a few meetings about our team values, and met the new coaches.

It was different with with Mark Lane gone and some new faces, but I soon got used to it. I’ve done quite a bit of work with the new head of England Women’s Performance Paul Shaw – I was 15 when I played for England under 21s, and Paul coached that team, and then he was coach of the England Women’s Academy when I played. He did a lot of work on both my batting and my bowling and it’s nice to have him back. David Capel’s new to the squad as an assistant coach to work alongside Carl Crowe – he’s got a lot of really good, useful information.

I’ve been doing a lot of work on my bowling with Carl; my action is getting a lot better and that’s proven in my performances. I’m working on getting forward in my action and being a lot more consistent – with the Test match coming up that’s important.

We played the first one-dayer at Louth CC, Arran Brindle’s home club. I really enjoyed playing there, there were 2,000 people watching and it was a really nice atmosphere. We’ve played against Pakistan before in World Cups – I don’t know them personally but they seem a nice bunch of girls. They’re all really small – they’re about the same size as me! – and they’ve improved a lot, especially in their fielding. And fair play to them, they go up for every appeal – they all scream in the batsmen’s faces, and they all go up at once. We do our best but we’re probably not as loud as them…

The run machine Charlotte Edwards was at it again in the first two ODIs with 83 and 62. She’s the best batter in the world, a different class – she just times the ball and hits the gaps. I’ve learnt a lot from watching Lottie over the last few years – she basically hits the bad balls and blocks the good ones – it just shows you don’t have to do anything stupid. I think the most overused phrase in the team is ‘Shot, Lot’. Everyone shouts that all the time while she’s batting – hopefully she can keep it up for the Ashes!

It’s been ace seeing Lauren Winfield and Natalie Sciver making their debuts. They were fully deserved – they’ve done really well this season, and they were proud moments for them. It’s really nice to see people making their debuts for England, it just reminds me of myself in Mumbai back in 2010 – it seems years ago now!

Natasha Farrant bowled brilliantly on her debut in the Twenty20s. I get on well with Tash, she’s a bit similar to me – except that she’s posh and I’m a pikey. On tour during a fielding session run by Lottie, Lauren Winfield and Arran Brindle, we had two teams – a posh team (Nat Sciver, Tash, Sarah Taylor were in that) and a pikey team (me, Danni Hazell, Lottie, Lydia Greenway, Jenny Gunn), and I was captain of the pikies!

Sarah (she went to Brighton College) scored quickly in the first Twenty20 – 57 from 50 balls. Alongside Lottie she’s the best batter in the world. She’s got so much natural talent it’s ridiculous.

I’ve got this week off, so on Tuesday I went to Alton Towers with a few friends from my women’s club, Meir Heath. We had a good laugh, then I went to my mate’s farm and saw all the lambs that I helped deliver back in March. My mate Amy lives on this amazing farm at Cheadle – every March she invites me down to help deliver the lambs – I actually helped pull them out, so it’s pretty disgusting, but it’s an amazing feeling when they’re born – I was crying last time! And it was great to see them having grown up. Then next week I’m back with the MCC YCs.

As YCs we work at the Lord’s Test, so I’ll be there in the shop handing out baskets in the intervals – which means we can give some Aussie fans a bit of stick. Then we go and sit by the covers and watch the game or go and have a net. It’s not a bad life! As for the men’s series, I’m predicting a 5-0 whitewash. Come on lads!

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