Three members of England’s World Cup-winning squad have made history after being named among Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year.
Captain Heather Knight, Anya Shrubsole and Nat Sciver have all been named in the list, making them the third, fourth and fifth women to ever receive the accolade.
The award, in existence since 1889 and chosen by the editor, is given to those five cricketers who’ve had the greatest influence on the preceding British summer of cricket.
Previously two women had won the award: Claire Taylor in 2009 and Charlotte Edwards in 2014.
For Knight, as well as it being a huge personal triumph it’s another indication of just how the women’s game is progressing and how much further scope there is to grow.
“It’s one of the ultimate honours in cricket,” she said. “You always see the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year and it’s something you can only ever win once.
“Every cricketer wants to be named in the list and it’s an absolute honour. I’m delighted that there are three of us on the list. To see Anya and Nat in the list as well, and for three of the five to be women, shows the reach that the last 12 months have had for women’s cricket.
“I think it’s a great statement from Wisden and it shows how many people watched that final and were engrossed by the tournament.
"Out of all the honours I’ve been fortunate enough to receive since the ICC Women’s World Cup final this is the most special"
“It’s another great indication of where the women’s game is – and of where it’s going - and I’m so proud.”
Vice-captain Anya Shrubsole, who has also broken new ground by becoming the first woman to feature on the front cover of the Almanack, bowled England to victory at Lord’s last summer and has since received a number of personal accolades and awards.
For her, though, this is the most special: “Personally, out of all the honours I’ve been fortunate enough to receive since the ICC Women’s World Cup final this is the most special. To win such a prestigious cricket award is about as good as it gets for a cricketer.”
The relevance of over half of the Five Cricketers of the Year being female is not lost on her, and she hopes that it acts as another step-change for the way in which the women’s game is perceived.
“I think what we’re really starting to get is women’s cricketers who are role-models,” she explained.
“If you talk to a lot of our team it’s likely their cricketing heroes come from the men’s game and that was just the way that it was. There wasn’t a lot of women’s cricket and there certainly wasn’t a lot of women’s cricket right at the forefront of the public eye and in the press.
“What I hope this honour does is allow people to see us as role-models and inspire young girls to dream of one day playing for England.”
The list is rounded off by Nat Sciver, who scored two centuries across the tournament – as well as a crucial half-century in the final at Lord’s – and also christened a new shot, the Natmeg.
“It’s an unbelievably amazing thing to have been honoured with,” she said.
“It’s such an old and historic part of cricket and when you look at the other names that have been included down the years you get a sense of what an achievement it is.”
Like Shrubsole she hopes that the presence of three women on the list will inspire young girls to get involved in cricket.
“Growing up and playing in boys’ sports was tough but also it was the only thing I knew how to do. For three of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year to be female is amazing, and hopefully this isn’t the last time that happens.”
Director of Women's Cricket, Clare Connor, was delighted to see the trio recognised for a monumental 2017.
"What's so good about it is that Wisden could have given one of the five awards this year to a woman, to Heather Knight or Anya Shrubsole for their World Cup exploits. But to make such a statement about what a year 2017 was for the women's game by giving three of the five is from my point of view wonderful recognition from one of the oldest and most respected cricket institutions.