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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 March, 2005, 11:37 GMT
Newton redefines one-day norm
By Scott Heinrich

Laura Newton
I'm fully focused on my children, my university and my cricket
Laura Newton

Laura Newton has been given a license to thrill at the World Cup.

Newton started her career as a gentle medium-pacer, but over the years has been transformed into a top-order hit-woman who could fire England to their first trophy since 1993.

England coach Richard Bates has devised a blueprint for success, and Newton figures prominently in his plans.

"Batesy sets us a target of 75 in the first 15 overs and there will be no time to play yourself in," the 27-year-old tells BBC Sport.

"He says that if you go for it he will have no qualms with you whatsoever. He will pat you on the back and say well done.

"In women's cricket, 75 in the first 15 is a very big ask."

Indeed it is. Considering the run-stifling tactics that prevail in the women's game, such a ploy seems almost subversive.

"I remember last summer [Australia's] Mel Jones was commenting on why I was going for balls outside the off-stump very early on," Newton recalls.

"The fact is, I have a license to go for those balls, whereas the Aussies might play it a bit more restricted and not see it as an opportunity to score runs."

In Charlotte Edwards, Newton has an opening partner she can rely on and a shoulder she can cry on.

The long-time friends both scored centuries (Newton for the first time) in a memorable Test match against New Zealand last year.

AN OPEN FRIENDSHIP
Charlotte Edwrards and Laura Newton

"It's absolutely brilliant opening with Charlotte. We've grown up together, we can predict what each other may do and we feed off each other," Newton says.

"If I'm not firing, she'll be firing and if I'm firing she'll take the back seat. We complement each other.

"That hundred was just one of those days. It was unbelievable.

"I had made 98 once before, and when I got to 98 against New Zealand the memories came back.

"I remember standing there thinking, 'where am I going to get these two runs from?'.

"But then I was bowled a nice full toss, and Charlotte nearly knocked me over because she was more excited than I was I think."

Like her England career, the past 12 months of Newton's life has been a story of transformation.

As a university student studying sports science, professional coach and mother of two, Newton is used to having her hands full.

But a recent divorce forced more stress on her already busy life.

"It has been tough, but I have got over that and we have moved on as a family.

"We both play a very important part in their development and we will continue to do so. We both want what is best for the children.

England coach Richard Bates
Newton speaks highly of England coach Richard Bates

"My ex-husband has the kids but access is not a problem and I see them every day.

"Now I'm fully focused on my children, my university and my cricket, and it seems to have all fallen into place."

A level-three coach, Newton is ideally placed to assess the coching style of Bates, a reputed disciplinarian who took over from John Harmer in June 2003.

"At the time John picked us up, we were at a low ebb in terms of where we were going.

"He was brilliant and he formed a base for Batesy. We had the technical ability, and now we have tactical awareness.

"Our cricket could not be better in terms of preparation. Everything that goes on behind the scenes is very professional.

"It feels as though we are restricted sometimes, but we are restricted for a reason and it's paid off - we are playing the best cricket of our lives."

There is not long to wait to see if England's best is good enough for World Cup glory.


SEE ALSO
Newton stars for England
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