A year to remember for Edwards

How can you surpass a year in which you lifted the Ashes and were voted the best woman cricketer on the planet? Simple. Win the World Cup.

Charlotte Edwards' achievements in 2008 were simply astonishing.

She led England to Ashes glory Down Under, masterminded a 3-1 series defeat of New Zealand and successfully planned the demise of West Indies, South Africa and India last summer.

Then came her crowning as the ICC's woman cricketer of the year in September at a glittering ceremony in Dubai where Edwards pipped team-mate Claire Taylor to the prestigious award.

"It's been an amazing year," Edwards told ecb.co.uk. "The best of my cricketing career both from a team point of view and from a personal point of view.

"It was amazing to win that award, but the team comes first. In many ways I was picking up the award on behalf of the team. It would not have been as special if the team had not done so well. I had been consistent in a year the team had done well, but Tayls could easily have won it too."

When asked what the highlight of the year was from a cricketing point of view, Edwards is quick to name February's third ODI against Australia in Sydney.

Charlotte Edwards

Charlotte Edwards led from the bat as England beat West Indies, South Africa and India

One-all in the series, England's preparations were thrown into disarray when former coach Richard Dobson suddenly left his post. The team regrouped, however, and with the captain leading from the front secured a magnificent seven-wicket win.

"That game was special," said Edwards, who hit the winning runs to finish on 70 not out.

"Considering all the problems we had had leading up to that match, that it was my 100th game and it being at the SCG. We had beaten the Aussies already but people were wondering if that was a fluke, so to beat them again proved we were good enough.

"I think that game was the turning point in our tour. But winning the Ashes was special too, though."

Like an unwanted Christmas present, the memories from the last 12 months will have to be packed away and left to gather dust while Edwards focuses on what is widely regarded as the biggest year in the history of women's cricket in this country.

If March's World Cup is not enough, England also have the World Twenty20 and their defence of the Ashes to look forward to in the next nine months.

"It's been a phenomenal year - I just hope we can take this into 2009," said Edwards.

"Looking at what's ahead of us next year, that's what keeps me going when I am training.

"We have three huge tournaments in four months. It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

"We have to just focus on each one individually. I'm only looking as far as the World Cup. I want to win that. I have not played in a World Cup final either, so there is a massive carrot there.

"I haven't thought much about the World Twenty20 and the Ashes. It'd be great to do a clean-sweep though."

Charlotte Edwards

Edwards won the ICC Women's Player of the Year award, edging out Claire Taylor

England certainly swept all before them this year but even Edwards admits she was slightly surprised with the team's success. They are currently unbeaten in 14 games and have no intention of seeing that streak end.

"I didn't believe we would be as successful as we have been," she added. "In previous years we have had injuries which have held us back. We did not play with our best team as often as we would have liked.

"This year was different and we played our best XI in every game. We are also lucky that a few of the team are hitting their peak, like myself and Tayls. Others have really come on too, like Caroline Atkins and Beth Morgan. Lydia Greenway has emerged as a world-class player.

"We have a great balance in the team. We have players who are maturing and youngsters who just want to go out there and play. They have no fear at all.

"We have a great spirit. Everyone wants each other to do well. Laney (coach Mark Lane) and Jack (Birkenshaw) have really helped with that."

A smile is never too far away from Edwards' face and it is no surprise to hear that the 29-year-old is really enjoying her cricket after initially struggling with the burden of being captain.

"When I took over the captaincy I put too much pressure on myself," she explained. "I tried too hard and when we lost I took it badly. I'm much more relaxed now.

"I know my game now. When I bat, I know where I am looking to score. In the past I'd worry about how I looked when I batted. Now I'd rather score a grinding 70 than a nice 20. It doesn't matter how you score the runs, it's how many you score.

"But I actually get more pleasure out of seeing my team-mates do well than I do with my own performances."