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Sunday 22nd February 2009

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England captain Charlotte Edwards believes peaking at the right time and the key players firing consistently will be the keys to success in the ICC Women“s World Cup to be staged in Australia from 7 to 22 March.T

The ICC Women“s Player of the Year of 2008 was also of the view that next month“s tournament would be the toughest yet with the format also guaranteeing that only the two best teams in the world would qualify for the final.

“The World Cup is all about peaking at the right time and dealing with the pressure of big matches. I think the four pre-tournament favourites (England, Australia, India and New Zealand) are equal in strength which brings it down to the fact that the difference between winning and losing will be whose key players excel on match days,” said the 29-year-old Edwards who has scored 3,520 runs in 117 ODIs.
“I think all the (four) teams have an equal chance (of winning) so it“s a case of building some momentum going into the Super Six stage.The event has been structured in such a way that every match is a semi-final which makes it very exciting and tough, and guarantees that only the two best teams go through to the final.
“I think this is going to be the closest World Cup in a number of years,” she said.
A polite and soft-spoken Edwards, who first represented England at the age of 16 against New Zealand at Guildford, considers five-time champion Australia as the tournament favourite and West Indies as the team capable of springing surprises.
“It“s obviously nice to be spoken as favourites but I think Australia is the favourite, especially because it will be playing on home turf. Australia has dominated international cricket for the past 10 years andbeing on home soil it is the team to beat.
“I also think the West Indies will be the surprise package of the World Cup. We played them in the summer and I was really impressed with them, especially with their bowling and fielding.”
Edwards said her team would try to control the controllable and avoid being complacent. “All the teams will be in Australia to win and we will be no different. We will have to concentrate, stay focused and try to control only what we cancontrol.
“We have got a good mix of youth and experience as have New Zealand and Australia. It will be whose key players perform on match days. Any team can win this World Cup so it is a case of not being complacent
“One of our players to watch in the World Cup will be wicketkeeper/batter Sarah Taylor. She is an incredible talent while I am also delighted to see Katherine Brunt back in the squad. She has recovered nicely from a serious back injury and is bowling as well as I have seen her,” Edwards said.
The England captain admitted her team was short of match practice with her last ODI series being against India in September last year. But she stressed that her team would arrive in Sydney fresh and ready. “You can“t beat playing international cricket.
“But on the other side of the coin, half of our squad is playing club cricket in Sydney and getting use to the conditions while those who were in England travelled to India for a training camp and attended lots of training sessions.
“We“ll definitely arrive in Sydney fresh and ready to go.”
When Edwards arrives in Sydney, she will be doing so as the ICC Women“s Player of the Year of 2008, the England captain, the fourth leading run-getter in World Cup history and the most experienced England player. But the Kent captain said she would not feel any of the additional pressures that come from being so high profile.
“There is always pressure whenever you put on an England shirt but it is something I relish and love doing. But I won“t be carrying any extra burdens on my shoulders.
“Ultimately I have to concentrate on scoring runs and captaining the sideand I am very lucky to have a wonderful management team around me that allows me to do that.
“I consider myself very fortunate to have been selected for the fourth World Cup. World Cup is avery special event, the one where you test yourself against the best in the world. I“m very fortunate to be playing in my fourth World Cup and all havebeen great experiences.
“The World Cup, I think, is all about winning as it is the ultimate prize in women“s cricket and the goal that I have set for myself in this tournament is to contribute to a winning England team.
“Any World Cup is special but I have to say that this World Cup under the auspices of the ICC will be the most exciting one yet,with the extra media coverage hopefully making it even more memorable.
“World Cups are always exciting and challenging and combining that with all the different cultures and backgrounds, it does make it the ultimate prize.
“It excites me to know ESPN STAR Sports will be showing live all the seven matches from the North Sydney Oval. To get this kind of coverage is unprecedented and great news for the growth of the game.
“I am confident that the profile of women“s cricket will jump to a new level with this extra media coverage andattention which will encourage more women and girls to take up this glorious sport.”
Edwards said he was satisfied with ICC“s initiatives to promote and develop women“s cricket. “Ithink everything is being done to promote the game by the ICC and I know all the players appreciate everything that is being done. It“s really exciting times ahead.”

England squad – Charlotte Edwards(captain), Caroline Atkins, Katherine Brunt, Holly Colvin, Lydia Greenway, Lauren Griffiths, Isa Guha, Jenny Gunn, Laura Marsh, Beth Morgan, Ebony-Jewel Rainford-Brent, Nicola Shaw, Anya Shrubsole, Claire Taylor, Sarah Taylor.