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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 March, 2005, 09:10 GMT
Maintaining first-class delivery
By Jamie Lillywhite

Cathryn Fitzpatrick
Fitzpatrick has been clocked at 74mph

For several years now, Australian Cathryn Fitzpatrick has been regarded as the fastest bowler in women's cricket, and a devotion to the game ensures that, at the age of 37, she still is.

Having first played for her country in 1991, Fitzpatrick's enthusiasm is undiminished as Australia go into their World Cup opener against England on Tuesday.

And though it was rumoured she would retire after the series against England in 2001, there are no signs of her slowing down, either with her playing schedule or bowling speed.

BBC Sport found her walking her dogs as the sun set on a warm summer's day, and wondered whether she still regarded herself as the world's fastest woman.

"It's hard to know having not played against the other countries for a while," she says.

"But I haven't heard any reports that there is anyone else.

"All through my career people have said I've been the fastest, but you don't live and die by it, you've got to be on the spot.

I love learning and I love talking about the game
Cathryn Fitzpatrick

"There's no point being the quickest if you're not consistent enough with it."

Clocked at up to 74mph, Fitzpatrick's raw pace has seen her snare four five-wicket hauls in her 20 Tests and 268 wickets from 160 one-day games.

"My pace is pretty consistent," she confirms.

"My run-up is the same, I haven't decreased anything and I still feel I can rush the batters but you would have to ask people who are facing me.

"People might say differently - and are going to want to say differently as I get older."

And how have preparations changed as the slightly built fast bowler has aged?

Cathryn Fitzpatrick
At first glance it could be Brett Lee charging in

"Our strength programme is more individually designed depending on if you're a batter or bowler and what stage you are in your career.

"Things have changed - they have to if you want to remain in the game. I'm doing more in the gym and certainly there's a lot more attention to recovery time in the pool.

"We have a fitness advisor who keeps up to date with everything and what we should be doing."

Off the field, Fitzpatrick has enjoyed the outside life as a "garbo", which is Australian for dustman, and more recently as a postwoman.

"I'm out on a bike delivering mail," she explains.

"Australian Post is good to work for in terms of time away; they've been excellent and very understanding."

There was also a spell in an English-style tavern, "but it was too conflicting with cricket, and cricket's the winner".

Cricket has cost me a lot of money and a lot of time, but something makes me want to keep going
Cathryn Fitzpatrick

It is clear that she retains a relish for competition: "I love learning and I love talking about the game.

"I've worked with satellite coach Brian Harper for the last 18 months and he's really exciting to talk to, when I'm supposed to be doing physical stuff I'll make him talk to me about the game and tactics.

"This afternoon I was coaching an 11-year-old girl who will probably take my spot in a year or two! At my club training there are 15 or 16 girls from 11-20, that's what keeps you honest.

"Cricket has cost me a lot of money and a lot of time, but something makes me want to keep going."

And of the World Cup campaign?

"We've only really played New Zealand and India so it's hard to know, but we've got some really experienced players and some young players who have no fear, so it's a nice balance.

"We've just finished our National League so we're in season with players finding touch at the right time, so hopefully we can produce when it counts."




SEE ALSO
Aussie duo earn World Cup recalls
14 Feb 05 |  Women's cricket


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