It’s been a year to cherish for Anya Shrubsole. Her World Cup heroics – in front of sold-out crowd at Lord’s – saw her team lift the trophy and helped create one of the defining moments of the British sporting summer.
She took an incredible 6/46 to take England to an improbable victory and create history in front of 26,000 fans.
The photograph of her watching England play at Lord’s as a 10-year-old and wishing one day to follow in their footsteps – posted by her father Ian – was a reminder of both her journey and the journey of women’s cricket.
She took it to new places again this week when it was announced she’d been nominated for the 2017 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award. She became the first women’s cricketer ever to be nominated – something that hasn’t quite sunk in yet.
How proud are you to be nominated for the 2017 BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award?
"I’m so proud. I think I’m still a little bit in shock, to be honest. It’s not something I ever thought would happen but it’s a huge honour and it’s a reflection of how much women’s cricket has grown"
When you were a little kid – first playing cricket – I can’t imagine you’d have thought something like this could happen?
"Definitely not, no. And still not! Maybe that’s a bit naïve of me but the spotlight is never something I really craved. I just played cricket because I loved playing cricket. Being nominated for an award as big as this just shows how much our game has grown and it’s so special"
You’re a huge sports fan, what it’s going to be like to brush shoulders with your fellow nominees on the night?
Probably a bit surreal! I’m one of those people who watches every sport: I loved Joshua v Klitchsko, I loved watching Chris Froome in the Tour de France, Lewis Hamilton as well – and our whole squad were watching Jo Konta during Wimbledon. It’s such an honour to be alongside them, it’s quite humbling and something I never thought could happen.
No women’s cricketer has ever before been nominated for this award - you’re a real flag-bearer. When you’ve retired and taking wickets is a thing of the past, do you think you’ll back on this nomination with a huge amount of pride?
I think so. I hope everyone who plays international sport is able to look back on their career with pride when they’ve finished. It’s something we’re really aware of as a team. The majority of our squad have – to some extent – been pioneers for women’s cricket so there is a lot to be proud about. We’re still going through that transitional period as a sport and there are so many ‘firsts’ being ticked off all the time. Hopefully, many years down the line when we have finished we’ll enjoy looking back.
You’re very close with your parents and they’ve been a big part of your career. How proud were they when you told them the news?
"They were hugely proud. They deserve this nomination as much as I do. They’ve played such a huge part in my career as a cricketer and I like to think that they’ve brought me up well to be the person that I am. Without them driving me around to cricket games in the evening when I’m sure they’d have much rather be relaxing on the sofa after a long day at work I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to pursue my career – I owe them a huge amount."
On December 17 you’ll be seen by young girls across the country, and that moment when you won the World Cup will be replayed for everyone to see. How much does it mean to you knowing your very presence on the stage might inspire one of those girls to pick up a ball and start playing cricket?
"That’s almost more important to me than being nominated. It wouldn’t have matted who in the squad was nominated – just to have one of our team there bringing the focus on to women’s cricket is incredible. I’d love for my nomination to inspire someone to start playing, or to keep playing, or to work a bit harder. That’s a huge part of it and something I’m overjoyed I’m able to do."
BBC Sports Personality of the Year - The past ten winners
2016: Andy Murray (tennis)
2015: Andy Murray (tennis)
2014: Lewis Hamilton (Formula 1)
2013: Andy Murray (tennis)
2012: Sir Bradley Wiggins (cycling)
2011: Mark Cavendish (cycling)
2010: AP McCoy (horse racing)
2010: AP McCoy (horse racing)
2009: Ryan Giggs (football)
2008: Sir Chris Hoy (cycling)
2007: Joe Calzaghe (boxing)