Lots of sun, cricket, steak and occasional heavy rain!
Having recently returned from a two week tour to South Africa with the England Womens U-19 squad, I have now readjusted to the rapidly dropping temperature of the English winter.
Two largely successful weeks were had with challenges both on and off the pitch. The first ever England U-19 tour proved a challenge for the players unlucky to lose the T20 series 2-1 against the emerging South Africa team but the players bounced back for a 3-0 win in the one day series with the final match going down to a last over nail-biter where we took the last wicket with South Africa needing 2 runs for victory.
Despite most of my friends and colleagues believing me to be off for a holiday in the sun, early starts and late nights were often the order of the day to ensure the girls were well prepared for either training and match days with endless pool recovery and stretching sessions interspersed with the joys of ice baths (which we decided as coaching staff to endure to show some solidarity).
The players many of which on their first major international tour coped well with the tough conditions of 30°C+ heat and change in environment training at altitude. Thankfully were no dietary concerns at least for the staff providing you liked steak (which was top drawer).
Days off were spent shopping or catching up on study for the players or treating the injuries for me which happen on a long tour although thankfully nothing too serious. There was a chance to spend a great morning coaching some of the local school children in the area at the Potchefstroom Central School cricket festival. The kids had a fantastic level of enthusiasm and enjoyment for the sport. The next generation of South African cricketers?
Despite us losing the opportunity to play the full South African team due to heavy rain (the first since April) the tour was a great experience for the players and staff alike, made easier by the fantastic facilities and our hosts at the Potchefstroom University.