Australia were looking to pick up their game once the tournament proper gets underway. © Getty Images

Australia were looking to pick up their game once the tournament proper gets underway. © Getty Images

If the practice matches are anything to go by – and they really shouldn’t be, considering travel schedules, jet lag, format, pre-tournament experimentation, trade secrets, etc. – England and Australia have come to the Women’s World Cup 2017 especially hungry and eager to add to their considerable World Cup riches.

Heather Knight, the England captain, returned from injury to pick up three wickets in the hosts’ 140-run win over the Indians. Nat Sciver continued to look in good touch as they put on 243, before Knight and Alex Hartley, who also took three, bowled out the visitors for 103.

Ellyse Perry smashed a century in the Australians’ 46-run win over New Zealand, but she stressed there was more work to do. “We bowled too many four-balls and a few loose shots as well as not finishing our innings again, which was quite disappointing,” she said. “We’re either going for the big shots or defending and I think there needs to be a bit more in between, picking the gaps, not letting the bowlers settle and putting pressure on ourselves.”

The defending champion have indicated renewed focus on pace bowling, and the world got glimpses of their quicks in action. Early mind games, perhaps?

Sri Lanka won’t get as much time in England to prepare as some other teams, but they have identified strike rotation as one of the areas that need work. “What they were lacking was creative shots and use of the feet. They were averaging only 41 singles per match. We worked on it and they improved it to 100 singles,” said their coach ahead of their departure.

It’s going to be a long month of cricket, and the teams did what they could to make sure spirits were high. England found inspiration, West Indies turned to some music, South Africa got presents and India a pay raise.

Visit to @RainbowsHospice with the team this afternoon. Inspiring people!

A post shared by Heather Knight (@heatherknight55) on

#ShePersisted

South Africa’s Chloe Tryon is one of the biggest hitters of the ball today, after only Lizelle Lee on her team. The 23-year-old, however, has added a new aspect to her game, taking on the responsibility of vice-captaincy. She even stepped in for Dane van Niekerk to lead the team during the quadrilateral series against India.

Having made her international debut as a 15-year-old, she has come a long way, while trying to balance studies with her game. “It was really tough because I had no social life back then,” she said. “I took my school books on tour with me and tried hard to make sure that I didn’t let either one of those two slip up. When I finished high school I was just really happy that I could focus a lot more on the cricket side of things and being with the team that helped me so much while I was trying to study.”

Given her experience, she is keen to help the youngsters through all the new experiences they have to deal with. “When I went to my first World Cup I found it very overwhelming as a youngster. We know that we’re going to have to help them deal with the pressure; there’s a lot of noise, a lot of spectators, TV cameras and lots of other outside influences that could get in the way. We need to make sure that the whole team is mentally prepared for that.”

Trophy Trivia

Australia are the only team to remain unbeaten in an edition of the World Cup, having accomplished the feat in four editions: 1978, 1982, 1997 and 2005.

Read more World Cup stats here.