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 Monday, 20 January, 2003, 12:18 GMT
England women upbeat despite defeat
Tour match: Otago 195-8 (41 overs) beat England Women 193-9 (50 overs) by two wickets

Laura Spragg
Laura Spragg took three for 31
England's Women began the build-up to the four-nation World Series tournament with a narrow defeat.

But as four members of the squad were playing for the opposition to ensure everyone had some match practice, there was plenty of optimism in the camp at the end of the game.

Sarah Collyer (44) and Clare Connor (40) provided the bulk of the runs in England's innings.

Clare Taylor, who has been playing for Otago in the State League, made 43 in reply and New Zealand international Rachel Pullar top scored with 69 as they reached their target with nine overs to spare.

Nicki Shaw and Laura Spragg picked up three wickets each for England and assistant coach Jane Powell afterwards described the game as "a useful experiment."

She added: "Some players are inevitably a little rusty, but those players who have been in New Zealand and Australia this winter were in good form, particularly Clare Taylor and Sarah Collyer.

"One part of our game we have been working on is building middle order partnerships."

England take on Otago again on Tuesday, before facing New Zealand A in their final warm-up match later this week next Saturday.

Pullar, meanwhile, has decided not to play for the White Ferns in the World Series because of family commitments.

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