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Beach volleyball, nachos & posters on the Tube

Heather Knight

After victory in the Caribbean, captain Heather Knight’s England side are on the brink of clinching qualification for next summer’s home World Cup as they head to Sri Lanka.

We’ve had just over a week in the UK following our five-match one-day international series in the West Indies, which was a really good tour for us as a group.

We were successful on the field, finishing with a strong win to take the series 3-2, but we also learned an awful lot as well. As a batting unit especially, scoring runs was not easy out there on slow, sticky pitches that turned inconsistently.

Sometimes it can test your mental game as much as your technical game – you know it’s going to be tough and that some balls are going to spin past the bat, but you’ve still got to try to be positive and find a method to score.

Throughout the first four matches, there appeared to be a formula in play – win the toss, bat first, win the game – but we managed to buck the trend in the last match to register the first victory of the series for the side batting second.

That chase was anchored by a quality innings from Nat Sciver, which showed us all how far her game has matured over the past few years. We know she can play some seriously destructive shots, but the team needed her to be the rock on this occasion and that’s exactly what she did.

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England’s five-wicket win at Sabina Park clinched the series 3-2

The Caribbean isn’t an easy place to tour and win, so to come away with a series victory against the current ICC Women’s World Twenty20 champions is a big achievement. At times we were a bit inconsistent, but we’re a young group of players who are developing all the time and there’s bound to be a few bumps in the road.

Volleyball and nachos provide stern opposition

Once the series finished we had an extra day in Jamaica before we flew home, so we managed to fit in a beach volleyball tournament, consisting of players, our management team, and the journos following the tour from the BBC and Sky Sports.

A bit earlier in the tour, we also played a friendly game against the West Indies team, including live commentary from the hotel staff, and encouragement from a rowdy crowd of holidaying Brits in the pool. After starting dreadfully, we clawed our way back into the match to finish with an epic victory thanks to Danni Wyatt’s serves. Technically a 4-2 series win in the Caribbean then?!

  • WATCH: Danni Wyatt’s West Indies tour diary

The following day we headed to the airport to fly home, although former England star Lydia Greenway, who was out with BBC Test Match Special to cover the matches, nearly missed the flight trying to finish off this never-ending bowl of nachos at the airport (she didn’t even get a sixth of the way through!).

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Lydia Greenway has won Ashes series, a World Cup and a World Twenty20 – but was defeated by this plate of nachos

Off to Abu Dhabi – and Sri Lanka

It has been a quick turnaround before we venture overseas again to Abu Dhabi for a week-long training camp, before our four-match series against Sri Lanka in Colombo.

We’re taking a squad of 23 to Abu Dhabi so we can have some internal games out there, meaning a number of the England Women’s Senior Academy girls are joining up with the main squad.

It’s a great opportunity for some of the youngsters to show what they can do, and benchmark where they are in comparison with the team.

It will also be great preparation for us before heading onto Sri Lanka, for the final round of the ICC Women’s Championship (ICCWC) as after taking four points in Jamaica, we now need just one more win from the three ICCWC matches in Colombo to secure our spot in the Women’s World Cup on home soil next summer.

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Knight welcomes parity for World Cup

Going Underground…

Excitement is already building for the World Cup next year, especially with the ICC launching a ticket ballot for the final at Lord’s on 23 July for the first time. It’s been great to see lots of publicity and hopefully everyone getting behind it.

Living in London, I got a slight shock on the Tube when I got back from the West Indies to see my ugly mug staring back at me on the platform in one of the adverts. A very weird experience, and my mates wouldn’t let me get away without a spoof photo…

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Knight is among the international stars fronting the World Cup publicity campaign – with the slogan “Who Runs The World”

You can read more BBC columns from Heather during the winter.