Women’s World Cup: ‘England unstoppable at the moment but can’t write India off’
Charlotte Edwards feels the ICC Women’s World Cup final between India - England at Lord’s on Sunday will be the ‘biggest game in women’s cricket’.cricket Updated: Jul 21, 2017 20:19 IST
This World Cup hasn’t disappointed and I’m not sure my nerve and blood pressure can handle too much more!
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like I saw as India beat Australia on Thursday. Without a shadow of a doubt Harmanpreet Kaur’s innings was the best I have ever seen and single-handedly she won the match for her country. There was nothing Australia could have done to stop her. It threw everything it could at her and she whacked it for a four or a six.
I wrote after Chamari Athapaththu smashed 178 from 143 balls against Australia that we’d not see another innings like that in this World Cup, and then Harmanpreet produces an innings bordering on perfection. This tournament keeps churning out surprises.
You have to put Harmanpreet’s innings into context – it was against Australia, in a semi-final and the pressure those players would have been under to get to a Lord’s final was huge. It’s just incredible what she’s achieved. It was chance-less, other than an opportunity for a leg-side stumping. She didn’t mishit a ball all day and Australia had no answers.
I said before this World Cup that it was important for women’s cricket that India did well, but I have to be honest, I hadn’t imagined quite how well that might be. I knew it had the potential to get to the semi-finals and upset a couple of teams along the way, but the most impressive thing has been the style of cricket it has produced as it has dealt with real pressure.
It has beaten New Zealand, scoring 265 and then bowling it out for 70. It has beaten England and now it has beaten Australia, scoring 281 in 42 overs as one player smashed 171. India has been so impressive and I wasn’t expecting that style of cricket. I’ve kept wondering throughout the tournament whether India would be able to continue to play so well and it has just kept on performing.
We know this is Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami’s last World Cup and no cricketers deserve to play in the final more than those two. They’ve been legends of the game. Mithali is now the leading run scorer and Jhulan is the leading wicket-taker in world cricket. They’ve done so much for their country and I couldn’t be happier to see them bowing out of the World Cup at Lord’s in such a big game. They are highly respected by everyone in cricket and they couldn’t deserve it more.
On Tuesday South Africa didn’t quite get enough runs against England, but it took key wickets in the middle and England started to panic a little bit. It took Jenny Gunn to come to the crease and take the game by the scruff of the neck. Her partnership with Fran Wilson was outstanding under intense pressure. Jenny is the unsung hero of that England team. In this World Cup against Australia, West Indies and South Africa she’s made really crucial contributions and shown the value of the experience she brings to the side. She’s been brilliant.
England will take huge confidence from its semi-final victory because it was the middle-order that made the difference. England has covered all bases in this tournament and won from the top, middle and bottom and won batting first or chasing. You sense it is in a really good place going into the final. I think it is unstoppable at the moment. You could see from the players’ reactions what it means to them to be in a home World Cup final. There was relief too because they would have kicked themselves for the rest of their lives had they not got over the line after getting into such a strong position against South Africa.
The last World Cup semi-final England played was against Australia, and I played in that game, we totally messed it up. Getting to the final is the hardest job in a way and they will be delighted to have got that monkey off they backs from last time.
Huge credit goes to South Africa who fought hard to make that really tense finish. I had to go and interview players on the pitch at the end of the match and to see the South African players sprawled out on the floor was tough. Having been there myself I knew what they were feeling. They are not listening at that point because they are simply heartbroken. It will hurt them even more that they came so close. Sometimes you’d rather lose by 50 runs than right at the death. The players fought so hard and then fought some more to stay in that game and their country should be so proud of what they’ve achieved in this World Cup.
The first match of the tournament saw India upset the host nation and this is England’s opportunity to avenge that defeat. But I think England has too much depth, as they’ve shown, whereas India who have relied heavily on their top order with Mithali Raj, Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur the key to their batting success. We’ve not seen a rearguard action from the India lower order.
England would have wanted to play India rather than Australia and with a full house at Lord’s and the home support it will receive it should push it over the line towards that trophy. For England, everything seems to be falling into place to win this World Cup. Lord’s is known worldwide as the Home of Cricket and that sometimes bites England on the rear because other sides raise their game when they play there. England’s record at Lord’s isn’t great, apart in World Cup finals!
I think England will win the final, but I’ve been wrong to write off India before in this competition. I hope it’s an exciting game that’s fitting of a Lord’s final and the amazing tournament we’ve witnessed so far.
I’ve always felt that England had it in it to succeed and the big prize is now only one game away. It’s going to be an incredible day for the side. It has dealt with a lot throughout this last month and it will be the icing on the cake if England were to lift that trophy at Lord’s. I cried when I won the World Cup as a player and I’m absolutely certain I’ll do exactly the same if Heather Knight lifts that precious trophy on Sunday.
But it’s not just about England. We can be proud of how far women’s cricket has come, the health of the game globally and India’s contribution to this tournament. This World Cup has already done wonders for women’s cricket, but to have a full house at Lord’s for the final makes it one hell of an occasion for the sport. We’ve got England as the host country playing against India who has the biggest reach in terms of the global television audience and following. It’s going to be the most watched game in women’s cricket history and a fantastic day all round.
This is the biggest game for women’s cricket ever with a huge global audience and a full house at the most iconic cricket ground in the world. It makes for a very special day. For a lot of past players like myself it will be a day we look back at fondly as we realise how far the game has progressed in such a short space of time. This entire tournament has certainly lived up to it’s billing as the biggest and best World Cup we’ve ever seen.
First Published: Jul 21, 2017 20:19 IST