|ICC Women’s World Twenty20 semi-finals|
|Venue: Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua Date: Thursday 22 November|
|West Indies v Australia (20:00 GMT), England v India (00:00 GMT, 23 Nov)|
|Coverage: Ball-by-ball Test Match Special commentary, in-play video highlights and live text commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and via the BBC Sport website & app|
Rain, rain, rain!
It’s fair to say it was a bit of a soggier start than expected to our tournament in St Lucia. On our arrival it rained on and off for three days, which resulted in a lot of wet people, as understandably no-one packed anything remotely waterproof!
It unfortunately meant our first game against Sri Lanka was a washout and the outfield at the Darren Sammy Stadium was the wettest I’ve seen in my career. It was a little bit frustrating, as we were obviously desperate to get our tournament going, but there was nothing we could do.
Anya Shrubsole and Linsey Smith were the only cricketers to get some action, with a bit of ‘Water Cricket’ down by the pavilion. To top it all off I had to sprint across the field to the press box (barefoot!) to talk about the rain and then my umbrella was nicked. Not a good day.
We were lucky, in the end, that we only lost one game to the weather. Hats off to the groundsman and his team in St Lucia, they deserve a lot of credit.
Our preparation and training following the rain was obviously affected too, but where there’s a will there’s a way! The coaches had to be quite inventive and we even ended up hitting balls in the concrete under the stadium.
When we got going it all came thick and fast. Firstly we had Bangladesh and we had the rare moment of giving out three debut caps in one game. We have a new tradition where we have this very lovely embroidered cap that debutants hold on to and then pass on to the next debutant.
The alphabet means that poor Sophia Dunkley had it for about two seconds before passing it to Kirstie Gordon, who then had it for a similar time. It’s safely in Linsey Smith’s keeping now.
We got past Bangladesh – with Kirstie very impressive on debut – before our big game against South Africa. The rained-off opener meant we had a pretty much do-or-die game straight away, but that’s tournament cricket for you, and the girls’ response and performance was outstanding.
It went our way and again our bowlers were brilliant. I was really pleased for Nat Sciver especially as she has put in some hard yards changing her action slightly in the lead-up to the competition.
We also had the rare beast of an Anya Shrubsole smile, but only after taking her hat-trick wicket (her non-reaction to the first two wickets was classic Anya). Anya’s not one to crave the limelight, but what a finish to the South Africa innings!
The Windies game didn’t go our way but it was a phenomenal game to play in as the sell-out crowd made it a brilliant atmosphere and a great occasion.
They outsang our family and friends for the first time this tour and certainly let us know we were in a game. It’s great for West Indian cricket and it’s great for the women’s game – let’s hope for similar crowds in Antigua.
It was a great learning experience for us, and although we didn’t play our best cricket, I was incredibly proud of how we stuck in the game and fought to take it to the end. Hopefully that will stand us in good stead for the semi-final to come.
Bad shirts and family barbecues
Our supporters out here have been absolutely out of this world, and we owe them so many thanks. There are about 40-50 loved ones who have made the trip, and hearing their noise during the games has really pushed the team on. Their dancing in the carnival atmosphere of the games has also been a constant source of amusement!
We had a lovely evening to thank the friends and family for their support, everyone came together for a beach barbecue and our social committee of Tammy Beaumont, Lauren Winfield and Amy Jones gave a nice little speech to thank everyone.
Another fun bit of on-tour social activity was Bad Shirt Night. I picked up a nice little number from a charity shop in Bristol and I’m proud – I think – to say I came fourth. As in, my shirt was the fourth worst.
It’s a weird prize but I’ll take it. I had to catwalk around the restaurant with the night’s other winners.
A big surprise – and a proposal!
Although I mention family, I was actually one of the tour ‘orphans’. The ‘orphans’ are those who – for that particular tour – don’t have any friends or family supporting. At least, I thought I was…
After the Sri Lanka game I was speaking to the press and Sophie Ecclestone came up to me on the pitch with a grin that meant she obviously had some info.
She made me come over to the fans and there – much to my surprise – were two of my best friends, Emily and James. It turns out they’d come out to surprise me, which I can’t believe because Emily is normally not the best at keeping a secret. It was so nice to see them.
The surprises kept coming because a few days later it emerged that James took Emily up the Piton mountains and asked her to marry him. She said yes and I’m so happy for them. They even ended up being interviewed on the big screen during the South Africa game.
This is the same Emily who dressed in my full England playing kit at the World Cup final at Lord’s last year and was signing autographs pretending to be me in a pub after the match. She and a few other friends also ended up on the back pages, so I think she’s enjoying the attention!
On to Antigua for the semis
So here we are in Antigua. One game away – hopefully – from the World Twenty20 final. It’s going to be tough, India are a massively dangerous side and they’re arguably the most in-form team in the tournament.
They have played some good cricket, but we can’t focus too much on them. We have to believe in ourselves and get ready to go into a battle.
I know it’s going to be a tough game but we’ve got good players, we’ve got self-belief, and we’ve got history of winning big knockout games. We’ll be doing our best to make it to the final.
We’re one step nearer to that massive carrot of being double world champions but we’ve still got an awfully long way to go. We’ll keep fighting every step of the way.