Edwards revels in women's soaring status
A further rise in profile of the women’s game leads many positives for England captain Charlotte Edwards, whose side narrowly missed out on World Twenty20 glory in Sri Lanka.
Requiring six from the last ball of the final to overhaul Australia’s 142, England lost a tense game, which preceded the men’s showpiece at Colombo’s Premadasa Stadium, by four runs.
Until then they had won every match in this year’s competition, including beating Australia seven wickets in the group stage, to take their T20 record to 25 competitive victories from 26 before the final.
With England’s men eliminated by then, Edwards’ team enjoyed a significant following at home through increasing media coverage in the United Kingdom.
“Coming back, you realise the support we had - and the awareness the game has had over the last three weeks has been fantastic,” Edwards told ecb.co.uk. “That’s something for us to be really proud of.
“The final was just such a great advert from women’s cricket. We’re bitterly disappointed but we know that as a team we’ve done so much for the game and that’s something that we’re really proud of.”
England women’s star will soar further if they retain the 50-over World Cup in India early next year, which is now Edwards’ chief target.
“The great thing for us as a side is we’ve got an immediate focus in terms of the 50-over World Cup,” she added. “We’re not going to dwell too much on what happened in Sri Lanka.
“I was really proud of what the team achieved and just ultimately on the day we weren’t quite good enough. We know where we went wrong; we weren’t disciplined enough with the ball and that was a common theme throughout the whole tournament.
“Ninety per cent of the times we played we were more than good enough. It’s very small margins in Twenty20 cricket and that showed really showed in the final.”
Asked whether she views Australia as England’s strongest rivals for the 50-over crown, Edwards replied, “Absolutely. The momentum’s with them now; they’ve won a major event.
“They’re going to go home and play a lot of cricket now because they’re in season. I don’t think we can rule out India, West Indies and New Zealand in that form of the game either.”
Just how evenly-matched Australia and England are was demonstrated by each having four players in the World T20 team of the tournament.
“Australia and England played the best cricket throughout the competition and I’m not surprised at all that reflected in the team of the tournament,” said Edwards, who was accompanied by Laura Marsh, Sarah Taylor and Katherine Brunt.
“The two teams are very close together in terms of player for player. There was no surprise. It was always going to be a close final. All our games, although we beat them in recent times, they’ve all been really close so we knew the final was going to be more of the same and they’ve got some fine players who really stood up on the day.”
Edwards herself was voted player of the tournament, having been its leading run-scorer with 172 in five innings.
“It’s something I’m very proud of,” she added. “I worked extremely hard on my game before the tournament so it’s nice that all that hard work has paid off, but it’s kind of little consolation for me.
“In a few weeks’ time it’ll probably sink in and probably at the end of your career you realise that those things are quite important. Unfortunately I’d much rather have the (T20) World Cup than the player of the tournament trophy.”
Having had a week off, Edwards and her team-mates are already working on their fitness.
“The girls are off until November 1 but I think most of us are back in the gym,” she said.
“It’s quite a quick turnaround to India. I’ve just got straight back into the gym but I think our cricket training will start early November and lead into January when we go away.”