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England enjoy Downing St reception

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Gordon Brown & England women

Gordon Brown entertains the all-conquering England women's team at 10 Downing Street after they retained the Ashes

Prime Minister Gordon Brown today paid tribute to the England women’s team following their unprecedented five months of international success: winning the World Cup, the ICC World Twenty20, a 4-0 win over Australia in the Natwest Series and a draw in the one-off Test to retain the Ashes.

The England team have toured the country this summer, playing in front of enthusiastic crowds at Taunton, Derby, Chelmsford, Stratford-upon-Avon, Wormsley, the Brit Oval, Lord’s and Worcester and today were guests at 10 Downing Street.

The England team were ‘accompanied’ to 10 Downing Street by the World Cup, the World Twenty20 trophy, the NatWest Series trophy and the women’s Ashes.

Prime Minister Rt Hon Gordon Brown MP said: “I'm delighted that Charlotte Edwards and the whole of the England squad are here today so I can congratulate them in person for retaining the Ashes yesterday.

“Together with your thrilling wins in the World Cup and Twenty20, it has been a fantastic year.

“The whole county is very proud of what you have achieved, your contribution to British sport, and the inspiration you provide to girls and women across the country. I hope the next year will prove just as rewarding.”

Captain Charlotte Edwards said: “We are all so proud of what we have achieved playing for our country in recent months and it is an honour to meet the Prime Minister on the back of this success.

“This has been a very special time for all the England squad and management team. This invitation tops it off superbly and we are thrilled to be heading to Downing Street with our families who have supported us through this busy time, both in this country and out in Australia for the World Cup.”

Charlotte Edwards & Nicky Shaw

Charlotte Edwards and Nicky Shaw show off England's winnings after an unprecedented spell of success

Clare Connor, ECB's head of England women’s cricket, said: “We are honoured to have been invited to Number 10 on the back of what has been the most sensational few months for the England women's team, our double World Cup winners.

“The team has benefited from Sport England funding and Government backing for a number of years now and this has undoubtedly had an impact on the levels of commitment and improvement shown by all members of the squad.

“Not only are our England players supported in this way, but thousands of girls taking up the sport for the first time are enjoying coaching schemes, facilities and competitions up and down the country.

“We are grateful for all these areas of backing and hope that our world champions continue to inspire girls to take up the sport so we can build on last year’s 49% increase in participation.”

David Collier, ECB chief executive, said: “The last three months are the culmination of years of investment and hard work.

“In 2005 we embarked on an ambitious strategic plan called Building Partnerships which set the women’s team the target of being in the top two in the world or reaching the final of a global event.

“They have surpassed that target and now have become the first team in history to hold the World Cup and the World Twenty20 at the same time - and if that isn't enough they have held the Ashes for the last three series.

“I am also delighted to today announce that the ECB has reached agreement with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Sport England that will see the Cricket Foundation’s Chance to shine project fully funded for the next four years.

“This is a £20m four-year investment programme funded jointly by the private and public sector.

“Many of our women’s team are employed as coaching ambassadors by Chance to Shine, and, as well as being role models for the next generation, are already passing on their skills to thousands of girls in schools across the country.”

The England team is dressed by Paul Costelloe, who said: “Congratulations once again to all the ladies on a most deserved victory.

“They are an inspiration to women and men alike, and certainly to me. It has been a pleasure to see them in the pieces I designed – they look fabulous.”

England women

England have won the World Cup, World Twenty20 and retained the Ashes in the last five months