Charlotte Edwards Retirement: How Events Unfolded

When the England team returned from the T20 World Cup in India a little over a month ago, they had no inkling of events which were shortly to unfold, culminating in Charlotte Edwards’ tearful retirement at Lords today. The players were under no illusions – they knew they had let themselves down and there were “hard yards” ahead to improve their batting, their fielding, and most especially their general levels of fitness. But nonetheless, everyone still expected Edwards to remain at the wheel today… tomorrow… and through to the World Cup in 2017.

Coach Mark Robinson was, however, starting to come to the conclusion that something a bit more radical than a few extra trips to the gym might be necessary if England were going to reverse their slow decline.

Over the following few weeks, Robinson held a number of meetings with his boss – Clare Connor – having decided that England could only get the fresh start they needed with a new skipper at the helm.

For Edwards meanwhile, life was starting to get back to normal. Assuming that if she was going to be fired it would have been immediately, she appears to have genuinely thought her position was secure, as she prepared for the new season, getting things underway with a match-winning innings of 79 for Kent in the first round of the Women’s County Championship.

The following day, Kent played Sussex at Eastbourne. As is normal, Sussex encouraged their age-group girls to attend the game if possible, and one who did so was Ellie Robinson… accompanied by her father, Mark. During a 3 hour rain delay, with all the teams, press and spectators huddled into the tiny pavilion, Robinson warmly greeted all of his players… or rather almost all of them – there appearing to be one conspicuous exception to the general atmosphere of camaraderie.

In retrospect, it is hard to believe that this wasn’t playing on Edwards’ mind as she was bowled by Tara Norris for 1 off 5 balls in the second over.

Then, the following day, Edwards received a fateful text message from Clare Connor, the substance of which was simply: “We need to talk.”

The “talk”, Connor admitted today, was the hardest of her professional life – the pair had worked hand-in-hand for over two decades – Edwards was the person to whom Connor had handed over the England captaincy ten years previously; and it was now Connor’s duty to tell her friend that the decision had been made and that she had led England on to the field for the last time back in that semi-final in India.

But worse was to come.

Edwards understood and accepted the need for new leadership, but believed that she still had a lot to offer as a player. Indeed, why wouldn’t she? England might not have performed “as a team”, but Edwards herself had made 202 runs in the tournament (one more than Meg Lanning) including 2 fifties, at a Strike Rate of 115. She might not lead England into 2017, but she would still be there as a player!

However, her hopes were to be shattered as Robinson informed her that she was not part of his plans to rebuild the team, and she would not be considered for selection in the summer or autumn squads.

Devastated, Edwards realised that the time had come to face reality and begin the painful process of signing off. After informing Robinson and Connor of this, a press conference was hastily convened at Lords. Meanwhile, Edwards composed an email to her England teammates, which was sent yesterday evening – the first any of them were to find out about the situation.

Then, selfless to the last, she set off to attend a university awards evening in Southampton, to play her role as guest of honour; whilst unbeknown to her, the news of her retirement was sadly leaking on Twitter, achieving nothing but heaping extra indignity upon her situation.

Charlotte Edwards – an England “great” if ever there was one – deserved better than that.

We really will not see her like again.

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9 thoughts on “Charlotte Edwards Retirement: How Events Unfolded

  1. Charlotte Edwards a victim of her own success and professionalism in women’s cricket.

    Anyone who has been lucky enough to meet or watch Charlotte Edwards as England captain and player cannot be anything but impressed at her professionalism. Her performances on and off the field for English Women’s cricket are a master class in being a professional sportswoman.

    There will always be criticism of a trailblazer but to get to this point CE above all had to stay true to herself and her vision. Mark Robinson and the ECB seem to have seen this as an ‘all or nothing’ decision rather than finding a compromise that could utilise her experience in transition.

    CE developed the England team in her own image and demanded high standards but she obviously believes she could have adapted to a new regime, MR and the ECB do not. But without her we all know the England women’s team would not be where it is today and may struggle for a while.

    Our regret should be that the new professional regime means her international farewell has been a media rather than a cricketing event, she deserves better.

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    • When you go back to the decisions made to not bring Pietersen back to the fold in the Strauss era, there was a clear case made for that decision. In this instance, it appears that Robinson and the ECB are seeing Edwards as a virtual negative influence, someone who would be detrimental to creating a new team environment. Cook, Strauss, and the ECB went with creating new teams with a new ethos, a more attacking way of being. Throwing Edwards out feels like a coach wanting to dump anything that would threaten the creation of his team.

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  2. England’s greatest cricketer.

    If this is how the ECB treat their greatest,then what does that say about the ECB. Shockingly handled. She deserved so much more respect and dignity in departure than this.

    England’s loss is Kent’s gain (goodness knows how many runs she’ll score this summer for them) and doubtless Australia’s gain as she spends the winter down under in their state teams and WBBL teams.

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  3. Bizarre timing to say the least, dumping your best batsman by far in the run up to two must win series.
    From what she had said I was sure she would retire after next year anyway – would it have hurt to let her lead out her Country in a last home world cup as recognition of her years of service?
    A shoddy and unprofessional way to treat a great cricketer.

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    • There have been many sports stars who have coasted at the end of their careers. CE would not have courted a fairy tale ending. However, given a level playing field she would have competed fiercely for her place as an England player.

      Instead MR with the backing of his boss has shown CE the door. For all the nice words the actions tarnish the reputation of the ECB.

      CE should’ve been allowed to leave the field of play with her England Cap on and her head held high.

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  4. From what CE said in her statement it seems that she won’t be the only one to make way for the new look England which makes the issuing of the new contracts when they did even more strange.
    There must be a few feeling nervous, if you can treat your best player like this.
    I don’t think it is a question of her coasting, I think she would still have been the best (or one of) player at the 2017 WC, T20 is probably leaving her behind but in the longer game she is still one of the best (particularly when she can hold up the rest of the (rather frail) batting)

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  5. Really disappointed she wasn’t allowed to choose her own time of departure, as I’ve said before here I would rather have her over any young whippet simply because she remains England’s most consistent and reliable batsman. Our brittle batting line up has just got even weaker. However, I knew the day would arrive when she was no longer around, we couldn’t put it off forever, and from her comments at the press conference it seems there will be several new faces in the team this summer. Good luck to them all, but it appears we might have to steel ourselves for a less successful period as we find out which of the new blood has what it takes and which do not. As regards a new captain, I’d say either Brunt or Shrubsole was the best choice. Opening bowlers are not usually first on the list of potential captains, but in the women’s internationals, they can only bowl up to 20% of the overs, so it’s less of an issue. Appointing Gunn would look like a stop gap, Taylor has far too much on her plate otherwise and Knight needs to justify her place in the team before she could be considered for captaincy.

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  6. In no uncertain terms, Edwards has been shat upon. Her dumping is not evidence of professionalism. It’s very similar to what happened to Peter Moores the second time around and Jonathan Agnew’s words at the time have decided parallels to this situation:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/32661146

    Dropping Edwards as captain would have been acceptable. Dropping her as a player after a tournament where she’s the second highest run scorer at a run rate in three figures is close to incomprehensible.

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  7. There is a theory behind Robinson’s decision. It’s a theory that will have crossed a few minds. It’s not a theory that holds up very well to evidence, and more of a smokescreen for bringing about the change he wants really, but it’s a theory nonetheless and quite an interesting one. But it doesn’t look to me like it will benefit England overall in the short or even medium term. Chances of the 2017 world cup are now pretty much gone, as I can’t see happening what needs to happen in only one year, when a few of the players have been in non-improvement mode for so long.

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