As the England men's #Cricket team continue their preparations for the ODI World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, their counterparts on the women's side have been playing their first ODI match against New Zealand's women. Sadly for Charlotte Edwards' side, it was to be a disappointing opening for the English ladies, as they slumped to a convincing 67-run defeat to their hosts.
With Edwards admitting in recent days that the advent of professionalism in women's cricket has increased the pressure on her side, the ladies playing in today's match at Mount Maunganui, Tauranga certainly recognised that this series is not going to be an easy one to win. With five ODIs and three Twenty20 matches scheduled against the New Zealanders, it is a stern test of England's abilities with bat and ball. They also knew that the results from the first three matches will determine their qualification for the 2017 World Cup, so a defeat in match one was not exactly what they had hoped for.
After England won the toss and decided to field first, the mainstay of the hosts' innings was their captain Suzie Bates' fine knock of 106, supported solidly by Rachel Priest with 52. The two openers shared a commanding 157 partnership for the first wicket, as New Zealand looked to post a challenging total for their visitors in the 50-over format. They were pegged back somewhat from the high total they were looking to score at one stage, but still managed to finish on 240-8. The main wicket taker for England was Heather Knight, the vice-captain and Edwards' heir apparent, who returned an encouraging 4-47.
England's openers Knight and Edwards were both run out when they took their turn at the crease, as their nation stuttered at the outset in response. After losing the first wicket for 26, wickets fell regularly thereafter, as no-one was able to post a significant score down the order, and it was not enough to deny the hosts a clear victory. England were eventually bowled out for just 173 off 45.2 overs. Somewhat surprisingly, the top scorer on the day for England was bowler Anya Shrubsole with a gritty 29 runs.