Women's Cricket in Australia -Ashes Tour 2001


Julia's Ashes Diary 2001
(Read this part...then see part 2...)


Due to popular demand, the Julia Price Diary has returned to computers worldwide. I must apologise for the delay in bringing the nail-biting details of what happens on the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars Ashes Tour to you, but a slight miscommunication problem ( that would be me in Holland) occurred. Never fear, my notebook has not ventured far from my side since being informed of my duty to the Australian and possibly worldwide public.

The tale begins in a country far far away………

The lead up to this Ashes tour has been slightly altered to normal lead-ups. For one, two of the players, myself and Charlie Mason have been coaching and playing in Holland and Ireland respectively, therefore did not return to Australia for the pre-tour camp. Our coach has also changed with Assistant Coach Steve Jenkin taking over the reins from John Harmer after 6 years coaching us. John will be sorely missed but we are all very excited about what lies ahead with Steve. Two new players have come into the team, Lisa Sthalekar (right arm off-spin bowler, NSWelshman , and a good person to have on your team for name scrabble) and Sally Cooper (left hand bat, right arm bowler, Qlder, and someone you don’t want on your golf team). Christina (free-lunch) Matthews has also managed to scam her way onto the trip by being the new Assistant Coach/IT. She has also informed me that this means she is now earning anything she eats and thus cannot be known as "free-lunch" anymore.

Due to my absence from the pre-tour camp I can only write from hearsay and so absolve myself from any blame that may be thrust upon me by inaccuracies in my introduction. Firstly Steve Jenkin crashed the bus, Chris Matthews injured Julie Hayes’ medial ligament in her knee during a fielding exercise, Lisa Sthalekar rolled her ankle while on a Sally Bailey fitness run, when introducing the team at the team luncheon in Sydney Belinda forgot to call up Therese McGregor who was on the head table, a bout of the flu debilitated about 3 of the players, Sally Cooper is having therapy after losing all confidence in the team golfing day, Karen Rolton is having treatment for RSI because she had to take all of Sally’s shots in the team golfing day and Lisa Ross hasn’t played golf for 9 years and doesn’t want to play for another 9.

If I have left any disasters out I apologise but will try and keep my finger on them from now until the end of the tour.

Day 1 - Friday 15th June

The day got off to a good start with the team arriving at London Heathrow around 5.30am. A long trip to the hotel and most people were in bed to catch up on a few hours sleep.

Due to a small communication error (I was in Holland – have I used that excuse yet) I arrived late and missed the first training run around Hyde Park. My argument was that I had previously the night before struggled with a cricket kit, back pack and hand luggage from Heathrow to Green Park to Victoria to somewhere else in London in peak hour and therefore had done more than enough fitness to last me at least the first 2 days of the tour.

The rest of the day was spent either sleeping, eating and just walking around in a daze with the rest of the people in London.

A quite evening meal, with most of the girls hitting the sack early, some voluntarily, some not.

Day 2 – Saturday 16th June

Saturday morning started early with some unit running with Bails. The early start wasn’t much of a problem as most people were waking up about 5am and not being able to go back to sleep. I, however, could probably have slept another couple of hours. The unit run wasn’t too bad except about of the way through the run it started to pour with rain. There’s nothing really like running with wet undies and socks.

The rest of the day was a free day. A few of the girls went out to see the trooping of the colours as it was the Queen’s Birthday. This in the end turned out not to be the wisest option due to another downpour but for an extended period this time.

Lisa Ross and myself settled down to watch the Lions inflict quite a large defeat on the Reds in the rugby. We however have not lost faith and still believe the Wallabies are a great chance against the Lions. I’ve been planting the seed in influential peoples minds regarding somehow being able to watch the Test on the 30th June instead of traveling to one of our destinations. I’ll keep you updated on how the plan is going.

Another group of girls went to the markets where all they purchased were umbrellas, after nearly drying out from the first downpour. It will be interesting to see how many more times those umbrellas will be brought out.

Steve ventured out with a few of the management team and got some, quote "great photos of the Opera House" unquote. He did just buy a new 300mm lens so his photos should turn out a treat.

It was reported that Olivia Magno was spotted in the Hotel gym. Now anyone knowing Olivia would know that generally this would mean either someone had told her that a pound was hidden in one of the apparatus’ or there was free food. She was infact preparing herself for her post-ashes tour of hiking through India.

Speaking of preparing oneself, I have been the brunt of quite a few jokes since arriving due to my staying abroad in Holland and becoming quite broad. During the team meeting we were discussing what things we can do better as a bowler, batsman, wicketkeeper or fielder and the suggestion of ‘lose wieght’ was thrown around for a wicketkeeper. My only comeback however was for bowlers "learn how to spell weight". Not long after the team meeting I returned to my room to try my team skirt on which now does not fit. Rather than call myself fat I like to refer to it as Size 10 challenged.

Off for a quick meal at the local Pasta place, which kept the Spaghetti Bolognaise crew (Lisa Keightley and Karen Rolton) happy. It was at this location that my initial suggestion for bowlers to "learn how to spell weight" should be changed to "learn how to spell". Cannelloni can be tricky however.

Another early night.

Day 3 – Sunday 17th June

To the disappointment of the team, our early morning run was cancelled this morning due to an earlier departure to Lord’s for training. Most of the girls drowned their sorrows in a sleep-in and a cooked breakfast.

We were initially supposed to train on the turf nets at Lord’s but due to the bad weather we had to move to the Indoor Venue. This however didn’t stop Sally Bailey from making us do some sort of fitness outside. Fitness consisted of some side to side endurance work (which has left most people walking like they have been on a horse for a week) and resistance running. This involved an elastic band being tied to two people. The first person runs until there is a strain on the elastic and then the second person runs through until they feel the strain etc etc. I’m not really sure what it does, but we had a great time doing it. We seemed to do more abdominal work than anything else as we catapulted each other across Lord’s for the morning.

Training was followed by a fantastic lunch which was held at the Lord’s Tavern. Anyone who has been following the diaries may recall an incident here on our previous Ashes Tour in 1998 involving our physio. Lisa Ross, managed to overcome her trauma despite us mentioning it 3 or 4 hundred times and ate lunch without incident.

Our bus driver for this trip is Ron. Ron is not the biggest man in the world but he attacks our luggage with a vigour comparable with a man twice his size. Due to Ron’s resemblance to Ronnie Corbett (size wise) he has been nicknamed The One Ronnie or Biggsy.

Most girls in the team have brought with them approximately 4 – 5 pairs of shoes. Dress pair, running shoes, sandals, shoes for going out. Sally Cooper has somehow managed to bring 8 pairs with her and added to that today with pair of Doc Marten sandals. Thus the nickname Imelda.

Unfortunately we have run out of time in London as we leave for Elstree in the morning. The exhibition of Queen Victoria in dress is on at the moment and none of us got a chance to see it. I always preferred her in trousers anyway.

Day 4 – Monday 18th June

Today we beat the MCC XI at Southgate. One of the key factors in our victory I believe was disguising ourselves as the Australia Lawn Bowls team. Our new whites are not quite up to what we thought they would be. Michelle Goszko, has decided (probably wisely) to wear her own pants and sew our sponsors logo on one side. She however, is not up to the task and asked if Charlie could do it for her. Charlie did a great job of sewing on the patch and also sewing up the bottom of the left leg of the trousers.

After unpicking her pants we headed out for the team photo. Due to the photographer having no idea who we were we had to say our name into his dictophone in the order we were standing. Unfortunately Gozzy was first and it took her about 3 minutes to remember her surname. A common problem amongst Polish I’ve heard.

Another person having problems with their pants was Sally Cooper. Sally has been spotted though and will probably miss out on the next couple of warm-up games due to her having to make a couple of appearances at children’s birthday parties. If not here she’ll be having a party somewhere with her pants.

We changed our batting order slightly today to allow some of the middle order to have a bit of a hit. This meant that Belinda Clark was to bat at 11. After retiring a couple of batsmen, it eventually got down to us losing our ninth wicket on the last ball. Out strode Belinda to make her mark on the game unbeknownst to her that the innings was over. I guess that is one of the benefits of opening the batting. She did receive one of the best rounds of applause when exiting the ground.

One of the players for the MCC XI was a West Indian bowler. Olivia Magno and I got to face quite a bit of her while out in the middle. When she did come on to bowl I asked Olivia who was going to bowl and Olivia replied "Oh it’s Ebony". I’ve retorted with "OLIVIA!!!" only to find out that that was her real name. Obviously her parents where big Paul McCartney fans.

Day 5 – Tuesday 19th June

Today’s game was going to be a tougher game than the last due to the fact that a few of the girls in today’s game are still vying for selection in the English Squad. After a steady start, we managed to score 257. On a deck playing slowly the ECB XI could only manage 87 with Charlie collecting 3, Julie Hayes 2 and the others were shared around.

During the game Belinda asked if Charlie wanted the helmet (obviously meaning Olivia to field at short leg). The batsman, Kathryn Leng, (who has played for quite a few years for England) asked the umpire dumbfounded if Charlie was going to bowl with a helmet on.

Australia A today also beat the British and Irish Lions 28 – 25 which unfortunately for us drops the odds for the Wallabies. Up until now all we heard about was how fantastic the Lions have been especially after beating Qld. It was good to have a win over them though. Plans for the 30th are going smoothly with discussions with the coach making progress.

Steve is becoming obsessed with a guest at our hotel. He is from the programme "The Bill". I’ve got no idea what his name is but we all get the update as to where he was, what he said, what he was wearing and if it was his colour or not.

This evening we had our first cocktail evening carrying on the tradition from our previous Ashes Tour. Nominations for the renaming of the Illusions cocktail came in thick and fast. To avoid any backlash I won’t mention that Charlie’s name was somehow related to most of the suggestions for the cocktail. However the winner was "Well Batted" due to Belinda’s short appearance at the crease after the innings was over on the Monday.

Day 6 – Wednesday 20th June

The "Can’t Do’s" started today. The Can’t Do’s involve every member of the touring squad being banned from doing a particular thing that is exclusively their trait. For instance Gozzy and Rolts can’t whinge, Lisa Keightley and Fitzy can’t say anything nasty to anyone (no matter how funny it is), Sally Cooper can only wear 2 pairs of shoes a day, Julie Hayes has to wear her ponytail high on her head (surprisingly hard for Julie), Steve can’t eat sweets or desserts, Lisa Ross can’t be bossy, Belinda can’t point (always good when directing players in the field), Tez can’t say Pet, Charlie can’t put her hands on her hips (after refusing to not wear hair wax or an item of Women's Cricket every night), Janine can’t eat lollies, Chris can’t laugh at her own jokes, Lou can’t do anything first, Lisa S can’t swear, Olivia is not allowed to talk about bodily fluids or functions, Avril can’t dob on anyone or give orders to anyone, Sally can’t roll her tracksuits pants over at the top and has to leave her pants zipped up at the bottom or rolled down depending on the pants, and I can’t laugh this low laugh thing that I do. Every misdemeanor incurs a 50p penalty or in Sally Cooper’s case an immediate 2 pound fine. Fortunately for some 2 pounds is also the maximum. Karen Rolton was first to incur the maximum fine within the first 10 minutes of commencement.

I got to play Doctor today to Olivia Magno. All those years of torment from Doctors with needles was release today when I got to stab a doctor myself. Olivia is heading off to India after the tour and required a typhoid injection. Always keen to try something new, I immediately volunteered my services. I was however unaware of the events that were about to unfold in front of me. Once I had the syringe in my hand, Olivia went into a sort of fit and started running around the room screaming. She wouldn’t let me near her. Eventually Lisa Keightley and I enticed her back to the operating table with a chocolate bar. Only a little prick, gosh skin is harder to break than I thought, whoops that’s gone in a long way suddenly. Is there supposed to be a bubbling noise when pushing the stuff in? Oh well only a couple of spots of blood. I’m not sure what all the fuss was about. Like taking candy from a baby really or in this case, giving.

Due to the Hotel we are staying in charging $3.75 per item of clothing, we have become well acquainted with the local Laundromat which is only about 15 minutes away. This is where we spent most of the afternoon before deciding what to do for dinner.

Chris this evening, having been recently hypnotized to only eat 30g of fat per day, went into a small fit while devouring a Magnum which prevented her eating more than half of the ice cream. The other half was then spread Pro Hart style around the rest of the bus.

Day 7 – Thursday 21st June

Today we played the ECB XI for the second time. We scored quite well again and finished up with 256 from the 50 overs with Belinda and Rolly retiring after both hitting good fifties. We managed to restrict the ECB to 9/164. A bit disappointing as we had hoped to clean them up a little earlier but that’s what practice games are for. Also good to see Julie Hayes walking out to bat after the innings had finished. That makes two people who have done it so far this tour. We are keen to bat.

Allan Border and David Boon were two surprise appearances today. Not just a surprise for us, but a surprise for them as well. They had decided to pop into Radlett for a quick drink before heading out for a round of golf, not realizing that we were playing at the ground. To their credit they returned after their round to witness the end of our game, oh and have a few more beers.

On our tours we always make a team cd up for our warm-ups. This tour we decided to have a sing-a-long cd as well for our long bus trips around the country. One of the songs on the cd is Come on Eileen. Charlie and I have been fighting about whether it is a one hit wonder or not. I think that they have actually brought out a best of cd where Charlie thinks that it is a one hit wonder. Then again she also thinks the band was called the Dixie Midnight Runners. Maybe in New Zealand Chuck. Anyone out there who knows any other songs from the band it would be much appreciated by the writer if you could send them to me so as to prove my point. Thank you. It was also noted by Belinda that the band had also released the song in Chinese "Come on Irene".

A couple of anonymous supporters from Dubbo and Armidale popped in to offer their good luck today by driving their rental car into the ground with Australian flags hanging out the windows and off the aerial. I was hoping for an aerial that was a coat hangar moulded into the shape of Australia but you can’t have it all.

Steve Jenkin is currently explaining his way out of a dodgy situation when asking Avril to get him the Red Penetrator instead of the Red Poker ice cream. I’m not sure which one is worse though.

The evening was spent singing up a storm in the tavern downstairs at our Hotel where a karaoke night was being held. At first curiosity attracted most of the girls, but the temptation to get up and sing was too great for most with Avril and Lisa K doing a shocking version of Sweet Caroline in memory of our recently departed coach Johnny Harmer. Chris left the crowds a little disappointed when she left the evening just as her request of Devil Gate Drive came up. Fingers crossed for next time.

Day 8 – Friday 22nd June

An earlyish rise this morning, before our regular stretching session. Due to not being able to find a room to stretch in (& the fact that they are trying to charge us 50pounds each time we use it) we ended up stretching in the hallways outside our rooms. Our stretching involves us being upside down, sideways, back to front etc. Not good after breakfast especially when I had decided to take on the Weetbix theory and try and eat 9 that morning. About halfway through the session, a guest who unfortunately for him is rooming on our floor had to weave his way through a maze of bodies up the hallway which resembled a scene from Gallipolli.

The Pommy girls last night moved in the same hotel as us. A small confrontation happened this afternoon, as we have up until today had the run of the place and the "spa". To our horror when we arrived back from training they had taken over our spa. We then decided that if the spa was theirs then the pool was ours. It was noted that a few of them have unusually good tans for this time of the year. Let’s just hope for their sake that they have spent as much time in the nets as they have in the solarium.

Speaking of colour, Lisa Ross is at her best colour I have seen in years. Generally Lisa looks like she is walking around in a our Test uniform most of the time but at the moment has come out in a rash from too much exposure to sun.

Our meeting with AB yesterday produced an opportunity to get to the men’s one-day final a bit cheaper than the normal price. It was decided that we wouldn’t go to the game due to it being the day before the commencement of our first Test and we have some very important things to be attended to before Sunday. Hopefully they will have a tv in the Laundromat.

Tesco supermarkets have unknowing become a major sponsor of the Southern Stars. Our food allowance is going quickly on internet, laundry, taxis etc so the cheap alternative for dinner is the old hot chook sanger.

Day 9 – Saturday 23rd June

It seemed that everyone last night spent the evening doing the same things. Watching Sumo wrestling followed by a movie about a rapist. A very exciting evening spent by the team. To liven things up in room 116 Lisa and I decided to start betting 50p on certain Sumo wrestlers. I ended up only a pound down so I was quite happy. Then the movie about the rapist came on and we started betting on whether the baby was the rapists or the husbands. I backed the rapist and am now a pound 50 down.

Charlie, Gozzy and Rolly spent the night having profound discussions about different life issues one being what their names mean. Charlie had no idea what Charmaine meant, while Gozzy was trying to convince everyone that Michelle meant love/lovely. When it came to Rolly, Chuck says to her "What does your name mean, Rolly?" Gozzy comes out with fat bastard!!! Gozzy insists she meant like Rolly Polly. I think someone needs to tell Gozzy that Rolly’s christian name is actually Karen.

A non-compulsory training session at Shenley proved to be more entertaining than first envisaged. On leaving we were fortunate enough to witness one of the English players shadow batting out in the middle of the deck at Shenley. Her shadowing was however to a six ball over. This naturally enticed a slow hand clap from us to the to the imaginary bowler as the batsman took guard. Good front foot defence. Next ball was a little trickier and bowled on a good length. Well left. That ball must have been a good one as the batsman had to walk away and regather herself before taking guard again. At the end of the over the batsman walked into the middle to have a discussion with her imaginary partner, practice a few words of inspiration and possibly a way that they might get this bowler away. She then resumed her position at the non-striker’s end only to be run out by a straight hit ball flicked onto the stumps by the bowler.

A washing run again needed to be done today and Lisa K, Julie and I all headed up to the laundrette. To fill in time we headed to the local pub to watch the Aussies playing the Pakistanis in the final NatWest Trophy. On our way back to the laundrette we happened to run into a procession celebrating Borehamwood, our local community. Lisa and I slipped past security easier than a Pakistani at the Oval and waved and saluted our way down the street to the hundreds of adoring Borehamwoodites. Our procession past the rest of the team waiting at the Laundromat however was priceless. Lisa, in her enthusiasm in saluting the team, didn’t see the band in front of her stop to do a little big of a jig to Sexbomb, and ran fair into the back of their lead drummer.

Pakistan and Australia played in the NatWest Final today. This didn’t stop Tez enquiring why Andy Caddick wasn’t playing in the game. Oh that’s right he broke his finger didn’t he. No keep guessing Tez.

Following a team dinner, we sat down to a team discussion on how we were going to play England tomorrow in the First Test. When Charlie was asked how we should bowl at certain players she replied with "Well I’d bowl 5 just short of a length outside off and then bowl an inswinging Yorker". That’s great Chuck but what about the rest of the team. "I thought we were doing the batsman one by one".

Day 10 – Sunday 24th June First Test Day 1

The first day of our Test today brought in a good sized crowd to support the home team. Unfortunately for the crowd the English team could only manage 103 against our attack with Fitzy picking up 5/29. We ended the day 2/60 with Gozzy on 19 and Lisa K on 21. The pitch wasn’t a easy deck to bat on due to variable bounce and doubt that it will improve.

Charlie Mason seems to be a little on edge this tour. After several people walked behind the sightscreen while she was bowling making the facing batsman pull away, Charlie has come out with "Can you get out of the way !!!" the first time, "People!!!" the second time, and "Enough!!!" the third time. The good thing about Charlie is that she didn’t discriminate between people in her barrage of abuse – old, young, ….. people in wheelchairs who are bogged in the sand.

There was a article in today’s The Sunday Telegraph with the headlines "England’s women batsmen trade insults with Aussies" detailing how rife sledging is in the women’s game particularly by the Australians. Before I go into details of what the article said I will say there are some verbal comments thrown back and forth between the teams. An example is Charlie today when speaking to the English opening bat (who incidentally scored 10 from 140 balls), "Besides those 2 runs that I misfielded have you scored any runs lately?" Maybe you should leave the sledging of yourself up to the English Chuck. Back to the article it was quoted "Miss Connor (English captain) said that Australian women were the most abusive sledgers but the England side could dish it out too" Good to see. Then what’s the problem? If anyone is actually wondering what exactly we say that seems to upset the opposition so much here is a supposed quote from an unnamed English player. "Another England player told how she had to endure comments about her physical characteristics from the Australians. ‘The slips fielders kept saying I had a big backside and the wicketkeeper asked me if you had to be ugly to get into the England side’ she said". Unless she’s talking about another Australian wicketkeeper I’d presume she meant it was me that said that. I would hope I’d be able to come up with something a little more original than that. However I do remember the game in question because the slips cordon and I had to pop out for a fashion parade and modeling shoot after the game.

After quite coincidentally singing Queen’s "Fat Bottom Girls" in the cool-down pool when a few of the English players walked in, the team had a team dinner and celebrated Avril Fahey’s 27th Birthday. An early night for most except Sally Bailey who today had fruit cake, Lucozade, and a piece of birthday cake. I believe she is still out running now as I type.

Day 11 – Monday 25th June Day 2 First Test

"Australia are probably the most uncouth team in women’s cricket" England Cricket Manager, Gill McConway in The Guardian

We woke this morning to the headlines "England reel as tourists shoot from the lip". If we thought yesterday’s article was hilarious, today’s was just plain ridiculous. Not only was it based on hearsay but it was factually incorrect as well. This sledging thing seems to be getting a little bit out of hand and seems to be clouding the fact that England only scored 103 yesterday whether we sledged them or not. Whether all this talk is to create a bit of fire for the upcoming Men’s Test series or not, we don’t know but it is no longer funny. Upon approaching the English Management regarding the article they seemed to backpedal quite quickly claiming misquotations, and things taken out of context. Possibly the case but unfortunately the damage seems to be done. A small selection of English fiction for anyone who might require some bedtime reading.

"To see their chatter as unseemly and unfeminine is to underestimate their keen sense of competition. Yesterday they smiled at a prim reaction to the shock-horror newspaper report that they were the worst sledgers in the world. They will have no problem with that accusation. They exist to win and will use any weapon at their disposal.

And as with all other aspects of their game, they are nothing if not thorough in their preparations. Before a match they reportedly discuss each opponent, play around with names and characteristics so when the time comes, the insults are custom-made for maximum effect".

Give us a little bit of credit. We’d like to think we are just naturally that funny.

"England are being encouraged to retaliate with the best they can muster but ground rules have been set by McConway and swearing will not be tolerated. ‘Australia are probably the most uncouth team in women’s cricket and while we encourage our girls to respond, we do not want any bad language’ she said."

As Belinda Clark said to me today "I’m not sure how they fit those caps over their halos?"

But now for the real news. Michelle Gozsko today broke and equaled two world records today. Gozzy scored 204 becoming the highest score ever by a debutant in a Test, and equaling the highest Test score. Super work Gozzy. (Gozzy also managed to make her way through her post-match interview without swearing or picking her nose once.) The rest of the team chipped with a few runs here and there with the exception of myself who got a golden. We finished the day with a lead of 241 and had England 1 for 8 at the end of day’s play. Should be a long day in the field tomorrow so an early night for all tonight.

We’ve got a sweep for Wimbledon and I have drawn the worst players in the history of Wimbledon. Should be interesting to see how everyone reacts tomorrow when they find out who they have tomorrow especially Fitzy who has drawn Hingis who has been knocked out in the first round. Whoops!!

Want more...then see part 2..

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