CHARLOTTE Edwards celebrated her 100th One Day International appearance for England ladies in style as she hit the winning runs to put her side 2-1 up against Australia in the five-match series. Ultimately, the series ended in frustration for England as A

Charlotte meets Australian athlete Cathy Freeman on tour

CHARLOTTE Edwards celebrated her 100th One Day International appearance for England ladies in style as she hit the winning runs to put her side 2-1 up against Australia in the five-match series.

Ultimately, the series ended in frustration for England as Australia squared the series at 2-2, but the Pidley all-rounder said she was extremely proud of her young side ahead of this week's single, deciding Ashes test.

"Saturday was something else," said Edwards of her Sydney triumph. "To win, to score 70 and to hit the winning runs was special enough - but then to be given the respect of the crowd, the Aussie girls and my own team left me near to tears.

"I know that I turned in one of my best ever performances for England and it will be a day I will never forget."

It has been a strange week for the England ladies down under. Firstly, Edwards' scheduled 100th ODI on Thursday at the Sydney Cricket Ground was washed out - a source of immense frustration for the England captain.

"The whole team were up for the game but it would have been easier to play water polo," she said. "We didn't waste the day we went down to the SCG indoor nets and shared them with the Aussie and Sri Lanka men's teams.

"It was a wonderful experience batting alongside the likes of Matthew Hayden and the rest and watching Brett Lee and the other Aussie bowlers being put through their paces."

Edwards, 28, enjoyed a pleasant bonus that evening when the ECB organised a surprise evening out to celebrate what should have been her 100th appearance.

"They couldn't put the meal on hold for everyone so we went ahead with a super night out for me and the team," said Edwards, who played youth cricket for Huntingdonshire.

The England squad had little time for sightseeing before the weekend's double-header and the squad was rocked by the resignation of coach Mark Dobson on Friday.

Dobson cited personal reasons for his departure, flying back to the UK immediately, but Edwards said the resignation had a galvanising effect on the team.

"We played out of our skins on Saturday and I was delighted with my own performance," Edwards said. "We won by seven wickets and to get my best score on the tour to date was great. Mark Lane has taken on the coaching job - and he is a really good coach with the whole team right behind him."

Sunday's final game in the series proved an anti-climax ahead of Friday's Ashes as Australia levelled the series with a 41-run victory.

Edwards top-scored again with 44 but a slow wicket proved harder and harder to score on as the match progressed and the Aussies benefitted from batting first.

Tuesday saw the team finally enjoy a day off with a chance to see the sights of Sydney before taking the two-hour drive to the test venue of Bowral, New South Wales, today (Wednesday).

Edwards said: "The girls deserved the day off. The ODI series finished 2-2 and was probably a fair reflection of the way both teams played.

"We have had a good press out here in Australia and it is nice to speak to people back at home who we know are supporting us and willing us on.

"We truly believe we can retain the Ashes."

INFORMATION: England Ladies need only a draw in the single test to retain the Ashes they won in 2005. Check www.huntspost24.co.uk on Monday for the outcome.