It has been a long time since England last ran out on the pitch for a proper game of cricket. In fact they last played on 7th September 2014 (5 months ago) against South Africa at Egbaston. Of course Charlotte Edwards, Heather Knight and Sarah Taylor have been getting in some practice in Australia, but for the rest of the England squad they will be keen to blow away the cobwebs tomorrow at Bay Oval here in New Zealand.
So it was good to see all fifteen players working hard in fielding and bowling practice this afternoon and the batsmen getting some more time in the nets. Katherine Brunt and Anya Shrubsole were getting some good shape on the ball on the practice wicket (next to tomorrow's strip) - the strip used in the recent warm-up game against Northern Districts. The ball seemed to be coming through reasonably well, although not much above stump height and Sarah Taylor was probably no more than 10 metres back behind the stumps. I understand the same strip is going to be used for all three games and it looks like there are lots of runs in it, plus the outfield will be lightening quick. If you can get any odds on Charlotte Edwards hitting her tenth ODI century this week then I suggest you take them. She, and fellow opener Heather Knight, will be salivating at the prospect of facing the New Zealand attack on this wicket. Knight's highest ODI score to date is just 72. She will hope to better that and maybe even clock up her own first ODI century.
New Zealand will be desperate to get early wickets, and, if they can, then the pressure will be on the England middle order, which has shown its fragility in the past. Misses Taylor, Sciver, Greenway and probably Winfield will be keen to show that they have what it takes. The England management will be hoping the same, particularly with one eye on the forthcoming Ashes series later this summer.
I think Rebecca Grundy will get the nod to play tomorrow, along with fellow bowlers Danni Hazell, Katherine Brunt, and Anya Shrubsole, with Jenny Gunn making up the starting 11. We will have to wait until 10am tomorrow (9pm back in England) for the team to be announced. The game is due to start at 10.30am (9.30pm in England). You can follow it live on BBC TMS on Radio 5 Live Sports Extra (although coverage may be shared with the England Men's warm-up game). The warm-up game was livescored on the Black Caps website at http://scoring.blackcaps.co.nz/livescoring/match2506/scorecard.aspx#innings1, so you would expect the same for this game too. I'll be tweeting (@womenscricblog) and blogging throughout the day with up-to-date information and with a full report at the close of play.
The weather forecast for tomorrow looks decent. So it looks like we are set fair.