The England Women's cricket captain Charlotte Edwards has told Sportswomen they are not going to surrender the Ashes trophy without a fight this winter.
The team are currently in Barbados for a T20 tri-series against West Indies and New Zealand, before a three-match one-day international series against the West Indies in Trinidad.
Edwards' side regained the Ashes this summer and the skipper is determined to build on the recent gains they have made - both on and off the pitch.
"I think winning the Ashes was one of the highlights," she said. "I think winning the World Cup in 2009 will always be, for me, the number one. But this was really special.
"We'd come off a very disappointing winter and to be the world champions at home, with the support we had, was very special.
"Now we've got a massive six months. After the West Indies and New Zealand we go to Australia and retaining the Ashes is a huge ambition. We have won an Ashes out there we have won the World Cup there, so it's somewhere we are comfortable playing.
"We know it will be tough but we ready for it and we are determined to hit the ground running come the New Year."
Coverage and interest in the England women's game has grown with their success in recent years and Edwards - who began her international career 17 years ago - welcomes the higher profile the sport now enjoys.
"That's the great thing now, that people don't compare us to the men. We're a stand-alone sport," she said. "A lot of the public now know the female players and appreciate the game for what it is. That's where perceptions have changed.
"It's not so long ago that women were not even allowed in the Long Room. And to see so many people here in the summer to watch our games, and to walk through the Long Room and with two thousand people out in the ground and to get the applause we got, was something quite special really."
Edwards says playing boy's cricket in her youth was vital to her development, and she is keen for promising youngsters to gain as much exposure to men's cricket as possible.
England's Sara Taylor was reported to have agreed to play for Sussex 2nd XI last summer, and although she never actually played a match for them, the story gave the women's game massive exposure.
"We encourage the girls to play boys and men's cricket. But it's up to the individual. They are two very different games that you have to train differently for," said Edwards.
"It was tough (for me) - there is no other way of describing it. As a girl in an all-boys team, well, girls didn't play cricket - apparently!
"But for me to captain the team and for me to perform, I really do believe that enabled me to go on to play cricket for England. It was quite an easy transition really for me."
Edwards will lead England Down Under this winter, with Alastair Cook's men doing battle at the same time, and she believes her male counterpart has a harder task.
"For the guys it is going to be harder. I think the Aussies were better than we first thought. I think it is going to be tough for both teams but both teams have got confidence going into those series and that is always a good thing," she said.
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