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banner Tuesday, 1 January, 2002, 12:06 GMT
Home thoughts from abroad
England all-rounder Laura Newton
Newton will try to stay in touch with her family
England all-rounder Laura Newton talks to Barbara Daniels about the problems of balancing an international cricket career with family life.

If any member of the England women's squad had good cause to have second thoughts about touring India at a time when political tensions are high, it is Laura Newton.

A mother of two young sons, she is understandably nervous about the current situation but determined to make the most of an unexpected cricketing opportunity nevertheless.

"It is difficult to leave the boys but it's a short tour and I'll be back for George's third birthday at the end of January.

"I will miss them and it will be easier if I am playing. If I am not selected then that will give me more time to think about them," she said.

Newton finished the home series against South Africa in 2000 out of form and drained of confidence.

Coach John Harmer
Newton is in tune with Harmer's approach

Some thought she might not play for England again and when she missed the 2001 season because she was pregnant, it looked even less likely that she would make a rapid comeback.

But only six weeks after the birth of her second son, Harry, Newton was invited to attend the first squad training weekend with new coach, John Harmer.

Her selection was a surprise, but Harmer had seen her play before and recognised a cricketer of considerable talent.

"I was determined to make the most of it. I had no real notion of making the squad for India, I just wanted to learn as much as possible and give myself the best chance of being picked in the summer," she said.

Newton worked hard on her fitness without overdoing it.

"I concentrated on building strength, rather than getting straight out and running. I made that mistake after having George (her elder son) and I was determined to build up gradually this time."

Newton, herself a Level III coach, speaks highly of John Harmer's training methods.

"Some people have taken longer to get to grips with his approach, but I have found that coaching others has helped me learn more quickly."

I did have a problem with my confidence before but I'm looking to put all that behind me
Laura Newton

It also helped that her husband Richard, the Cheshire Cricket Development Officer, has been coaching the squad with Harmer.

"We do talk about the coaching and sometimes I listen to him! He has been very supportive and it helps being married to someone who understands cricket."

Newton acknowledges that her place on the plane to India is probably come a result of four players being unavailable due to educational commitments.

She has the distinct advantage of having toured India for the 1997 World Cup and knows what to expect from a vivid, vibrant culture and a country devoted to cricket.

"I've tried to explain to the others what it's like, but no one can really explain. You have to experience it."

It's a good job it is a short tour as she has had to plan meticulously every day while she is away.

Laura Newton
Bowling in Australia two winters ago

"'It takes a lot of organising to make sure everyone knows where everyone else is supposed to be!"

This task has been made easier by the confirmation of Lottery Funding.

The players will be in receipt of funds for the next 12 months and in Newton's case this allows for childcare provision.

"It's a real help. Previously we've had to rely on our parents a lot and it's not really fair."

So at the advanced age of 24, Newton is embarking on a new phase of her cricketing career.

Her family will miss her but as a relatively old hand, the team will welcome her down to earth approach and her potential to be a match winning all-rounder.

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