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Page last updated at 12:36 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009

Isa lets the stats do the talking

By Aimee Lewis

Isa Guha
Guha was named BBC Asian Network Sports Personality of the Year for 2002
Isa Guha talks eloquently from her Sydney apartment until the articulate 23-year-old is stumped by an innocuous question.

Asked how many one-day international appearances she has made for England and the world's leading one-day bowler stumbles for words: "Um… I'm not sure… About 50 maybe? I'm not sure."

For the record, Guha has won 59 one-day international caps and played in seven Tests.

Statistics may have passed the Berkshire bowler by since she made her debut in the 50-over game against Scotland in 2001 but they make impressive reading.

The diminutive fast bowler has taken 86 wickets at an average of 18.43 in one-day internationals, while, in the longer format, Guha has picked up 25 wickets at an average of 19.32.

Guha, the first woman of Asian background to represent England, has certainly come a long way since the days of playing cricket in the garden of the family home in High Wycombe with older brother, Kaush.

She is a rare example of a teenage prodigy fulfilling her potential and has developed into what 1993 World Cup-winner Clare Taylor describes as an "international-class bowler".

It's definitely good to play out of my comfort zone, especially in the Sydney Premier League which is one of the toughest leagues in the world

Isa Guha

The Women's World Cup in Australia is her second, having featured in four games in South Africa four years ago as England progressed to the semi-finals before being beaten by eventual winners Australia.

This time around Guha, and England, are more experienced - and more ruthless.

"We've always been seen as a nice team but over the last few years we've become tougher as cricketers," says Guha.

That hard edge saw England end 2008 unbeaten in 15 one-day and Twenty20 Internationals after a hugely successful year which included a one-day series win in New Zealand, victory on home soil against both West Indies and South Africa and, perhaps most impressive of all, the retention of the Ashes by beating Australia Down Under.

However, Guha, despite her unwavering confidence in the England team, predicts tournament cricket will prove a little trickier as there will be "no second chances".

One thing is for sure, there will be no-one as well prepared as the former BBC Asian Network Sports Personality of the Year.

Guha is spending her second winter in Australia playing for Bankstown in the hardened Sydney Premier League and is one of six England squad members who have chosen to flee the rain, frost and snow in readiness for the Women's World Cup, which started on 7 March.

The University of London bio chemistry graduate has been spending three days a week on work experience in a research lab at the University of Sydney "to keep an eye on the future".

In January she spent a few days in Melbourne watching the Australian Open, while an occasional afternoon is spent on the beach - but the focus is on cricket.

"It's just nice to relax a bit more and work in these surroundings and this weather," says Guha, who is sharing a flat with international team-mates Beth Morgan and Lydia Greenway.

"I'm not playing as much cricket as I would in the English summer so that allows me to work on my game and to do a bit of work outside the game.

"I'm really enjoying myself. I have taken early wickets in most of the games I have played in, which I am pleased with.

Isa Guha
Guha spent time with team-mates at the Global Cricket School in Bangalore

"It's definitely good to play out of my comfort zone, especially in the Sydney Premier League which is one of the toughest leagues in the world.

"It has really helped me develop and I'm playing on wickets that I'm going to be playing on at the World Cup.

"The wickets are generally easier to bat on, the ball comes onto the bat that little bit easier and wickets are truer than in England.

"Bowling wise, the ball comes through a bit more so the wicketkeeper stands back. I still get a bit of movement off the seam."

Guha admits it has been a "crazy four years of highs and lows", with the highlight continuing to be the 2005 Ashes win which, she says, she loves reliving.

That match in Worcester, where England's women won the Ashes for the first time in 42 years, was the coming of age for the young international.

She shared a crucial 85-run stand for the 10th wicket with Katherine Brunt, helping England establish a 168-run first-innings lead which ultimately led to a nail-biting six-wicket victory.

The open top bus parade around London with England's triumphant men, who had just ended their own drought against the Australians, the trip to No. 10 Downing Street and meeting the Queen at Buckingham Palace was "a dream come true".

But Guha is well aware it is time to create a new tide of euphoria. Winning the Women's World Cup would do just that.

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see also
Guha inspires England to victory
12 Jul 08 |  Women's cricket
Women's World Cup launch in photos
29 Oct 08 |  Women's cricket
England women win to retain Ashes
18 Feb 08 |  Women's cricket
Guha's return ticket
04 Nov 05 |  Women's cricket
Style change pays off for Guha
26 Mar 05 |  Women's cricket
Isa attracts interest
05 Jul 02 |  England Women Summer 2002
Guha's World Cup dilemma
27 Feb 03 |  World Cup
Guha lands BBC award
02 Dec 02 |  Cricket
Taylor tops women's cricket list
16 Oct 08 |  Women's cricket

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