INTERVIEW: Captain Megan Fairclough On How Lancashire Bounced Back To Become T20 Champions

Back in May 2015, a bright dawn of optimism broke over women’s cricket in Lancashire. Newly promoted to Div 1 of the Women’s County Championship, the Lancashire Thunder – as they were known before that moniker was later taken over by the Super League team – promised great things. There was shiny new kit, a joint media day at Old Trafford with the men’s team, and a heap of press coverage, including an interview with then-captain Jas Titmuss in All Out Cricket.

Then the cricket started… and it all came crashing down.

Lancashire Thunder lost all 8 of their games in the County Championship that year, their season going from bad to worse as they were bowled out for 86 and 113 in their last two matches. They ended the season in last place on just 23 points. Notts – who finished just one place above them, and were also relegated – had 68.

Fast-forward two-and-a-bit years, however, and we are tweeting this:

Lancashire – now back in Div 1 in both formats – have won the T20 Cup, and are currently 3rd in the County Championship.

And they’ve done it with basically the same team – 9 of the players who played the last round of the T20 Cup, played in the disastrous 2015 season!

So what has changed, we asked captain Megan Fairclough:

“We are experienced playing together now,” she says. “After the difficulty of a couple of years ago, when we went back down to Div 2, we showed great character – we bounced back and came back up.”

And there is an element of success breeding success:

“The girls playing so well together constantly – playing such great games at the moment – is great motivation for everybody as well.”

With Lancashire now just back to being “Lancashire”, the “Thunder” name has been taken up by the KSL side, and the resources which have been ploughed into building that team, with a full winter training program, have also made a big difference:

“It is a good thing for us that we’ve got so many players playing for the Kia Super League – 8 of the squad is playing at Lancs Thunder, so they’ve trained together, and having the Thunder girls together constantly is kind of an advantage.”

And whilst Fairclough is clearly not intentionally having a dig at players at other counties who only play county, she does stress the importance for all players of just PLAYING – county, club, or whatever:

“People are playing cricket outside of county as well, so they are getting games under their belts and constantly developing their skills.”

One advantage Lancashire have had this season is that whilst other teams have been decimated by international call-ups, for Lancashire key players such as Kate Cross and Sophie Ecclestone have not been selected for England, and so have been available throughout; but whilst acknowledging this, Fairclough argues that there’s more to it than that:

“It can be seen as an advantage, but it’s not just those two [Cross and Ecclestone] who have won us the games – it has been a team effort. There has been different people shining through – everyone has worked well and we’ve worked well as a team.”

And looking at the numbers this is borne out: 3 players have scored over 250 runs – Emma Lamb (300), Eve Jones (292) and Natalie Brown (252) – and whilst Ecclestone is the season’s leading wicket-taker by a country mile with 25, others have chipped in, including Rachel Dickinson (16), Natalie Brown (13) and Fairclough herself (12).

Now with just two rounds of the Women’s County Championship, can Lancashire pull-off the ultimate comeback and do The Double? They will be depending on other results to do so, but it is possible that their final fixture against current leaders Warwickshire will be a decider. Fairclough though is taking each match as it comes:

“We’ve still got a chance but we don’t want to play the last two games under pressure so we’re just going to take it a game at a time and play like we have done all season – not overthink anything, just do our basics well – we’ll go out there and play our normal game and have fun.”

And who could argue that that is not what cricket is all about?

NEWS: Samantha Haggo and Lorna Jack Reach 100 Caps For Scotland

Jake Perry reports

Scotland’s thrilling victories over Wales and Worcestershire in Division 2 of the ECB Twenty20 Championship crowned a day of particular significance for the game north of the border as Samantha Haggo and Lorna Jack became the fourth and fifth Scottish women to reach the landmark of a hundred caps for their country.

In the process of joining fellow centurions Kari Carswell, Kathryn White and Abbi Aitken the duo have become integral members of the national side, and as they look forward to Scotland’s first home fixtures since 2011 they also look back on their respective international journeys with considerable pleasure.

“I’m honoured and very proud to have played for my country for the last ten years,” said Jack.

“It’s been a long road with lots of injuries on the way but to finally reach a hundred caps is a real thrill.”

“When I saw Kari, Kathryn and Abbi reach that number I just thought, wow, that’s legendary status,” added all-rounder Haggo.

“I never thought I’d win that many. I’m absolutely delighted to have done so and it’s really special that Lorna and I were able to reach the milestone together.”

Adding to the symmetry of the occasion the 24 year olds made their national debuts on the same day, too, as both were selected as teenagers to play against Durham in July 2007.

“It was a bit of a dreich day at Sacriston,” remembered Haggo.

“My family all came down waving their Scotland flags. I batted at eight, got a duck and didn’t bowl so you couldn’t say it was the most memorable performance!

“I remember being so excited though. I was given a training top, we didn’t get the full tracksuit like the girls do nowadays, and when I got home I just didn’t want to take it off!”

“I got a cheeky wee nine not out going in at number nine,” said Jack. “We won the game too which was great.

“But it’s nice that after we made our debuts together Sam and I won our hundredth cap on the same day as well. It’s quite fitting.”

Both players agree that experience has brought with it a change in their outlook on the game.

“I would say that my temperament is a lot better now,” said Haggo. “When I was younger I struggled to get my emotions under control because I wanted to do well so badly.

“Over time, though, you learn to enjoy it more. It is a game after all.

“You play it because you enjoy it and I really enjoy being on the field with ten other girls who are also my friends.”

“I think my patience has evolved if anything,” said wicketkeeper Jack.

“As a young player everyone will tell you that I was a very hot-headed wee person. I still am a little bit but I think I have matured over the years. I used to get hung up on moments that didn’t really matter in the long run whereas now I won’t let my head go down.

“My skills are improving too,” she continued. “We’ve lost a few players through retirement and this season availability has been a bit unpredictable as many of the girls are establishing themselves in new jobs.

“I’ve been punted up the batting order as a result. The first time it happened I felt I had a nosebleed coming on! But I like the challenge and I’m quite happy to play that kind of role.

“I just try to go in and do whatever I need to do.”

The past decade has featured a variety of highlights for Scotland’s women, with league wins and appearances on the international stage the reward for increasingly consistent performances.

“Winning the ECB Division 3 in 2014 was really special. We had a great season that year,” said Haggo. “Speaking personally my first fifty for Scotland stands out too, especially as I’ve not had too many since,” she laughed.

“But getting the opportunity to go to the World Cup Qualifiers in Bangkok and Sri Lanka was very special. Obviously the results weren’t quite what we wanted but for the team to get to play on the world stage was a real buzz.”

“Those competitions were amazing,” agreed Jack. “It was brilliant to play in that kind of atmosphere and finishing fourth in Thailand was a massive achievement for us.

“Whitewashing Holland last year to get to Sri Lanka was another high point as we’d never done that before. I had also played against most of that team as an Under 17 so it was good to see how we had advanced since those days.

“Catching Charlotte Edwards [against Hampshire] is a moment that has stood out this season,” she smiled. “Katie McGill bowled, Charlotte nicked it and I caught it. Not a bad wicket!”

For now, though, attention is focused on Scotland’s upcoming matches. After playing Ireland at MacKays Forthill for the Celtic Cup at the beginning of August Steve Knox’s side take on the Netherlands and USA in the ICC World Cup European/Americas Qualifier in Stirling.

“We’ve not really hosted Ireland for a series before so this is a fantastic opportunity,” said Haggo.

“Ireland are probably a step above us so it will be good to see if we’ve improved since we last played them in Dubai last January.

“It’s important that we don’t think about the opposition too much, though. Sometimes there is a danger of playing against a particular player rather than focusing on the ball you’re facing or the ball you are about to deliver.

“As long as we do the basics well and control what we can control then I know we’ve got the skills to perform and get the results we want.

“The experience of Thailand and Sri Lanka has helped the team massively,” she continued. “Playing against teams like Zimbabwe, South Africa and Pakistan lets us see where we are and gives us something to aspire to.

“We want as many opportunities to play at this level as we can get because they are so important for how we develop in the future.”

Scotland has the chance to reach the same stage again through the ICC Qualifier and as they prepare for the task ahead both players are excited that the team has the opportunity to showcase its skills on home soil once more.

“It’s so good to be playing in Scotland and at Stirling too because that’s where I play my club cricket,” said Jack. “We haven’t played at home for a long time so it will be amazing.

“The Qualifier is going to be an exciting series. We know the Dutch very well but we have never seen the USA side before which will make it very interesting.

“But we are confident that we are a good team with some very good players. We know our skills are there, it’s just a matter of us showing them on the day.”

“Whenever we go down south people squint at the Cricket Scotland badge and say that they didn’t know Scotland had a cricket team, never mind a women’s cricket team,” added Haggo.

“Hopefully this will raise a little more awareness of what we do and, who knows, maybe inspire some more girls to get involved in cricket too. That would be brilliant.”

———————

Reproduced by permission of Cricket Scotland

Jake Perry writes on Scottish cricket for Cricket Scotland and CricketEurope and is a regular contributor to HoldingWilley.

Twitter: @jperry_cricket / Facebook: Jake Perry Cricket

MATCH REPORTS: Lancashire Win T20 Cup v Surrey & Yorkshire

Lancashire battled their way to the T20 title on a windy day at Banstead Cricket Club in leafy Surrey, with victories over Surrey and Yorkshire.

Surrey v Lancashire

After heavy overnight rain, the first match between Surrey and Lancashire was delayed by a damp outfield and eventually reduced to 9 overs per side. After winning the toss, Lancashire reached 66-6 – Emma Lamb starring with 37 off 26 balls, as she found the boundary on 6 occasions, whilst for Surrey Beth Kerrins took 3-12 in the two (reduced) overs she was allotted.

Needing above 7-an-over, Surrey started off well enough with 7 off the first over, but quickly fell away, losing wickets at regular intervals, including 3 run-outs as they drifted towards a final tally of 45-7, 21 runs short.

Lancashire v Yorkshire

In the day’s second match, Yorkshire won the toss and elected to bat versus Lancashire; who already knew they were champions, after news of Warwickshire’s loss to Kent had come in via Twitter.

For Yorkshire, Jess Watson and Hannah Buck joint-top-scored with 20 each as the White Roses were bowled out for 87 in 17.2 overs. Natalie Brown and Rachel Dickinson took 2-apiece; but Sophie Ecclestone was really the pick of the bowling with 1 wicket for just 9 runs in her 4 overs.

It looked a massively under-par total compared with the previous game, with the ball flowing more feely over the outfield as it dried; but Lancashire actually made quite hard work of it – struggling to get the ball off the square as the Yorkshire bowlers pegged them back, led by leg-spinner Katie Levick who took 3-7 in her 4 overs. However, with Levick bowled out, Kate Cross (22*) and Sophie Ecclestone (14*) accelerated, taking Lancashire over the line eventually with 3 overs to spare, and time for the celebrations to begin.

Afterwards, victorious Lancashire captain Megan Fairclough told CRICKETher:

“We came here knowing we needed to win both games, depending on what happened elsewhere; but we took it a game at a time. The girls showed great character and worked well under pressure, especially towards the end of the last game. It feels fantastic.”\

Surrey v Yorkshire

The third match of the day was thus a dead rubber, but ended up a thriller, with Yorkshire needing 15 off the final over, and eventually falling just 4 runs short of their target.

Surrey originally looked to have set a formidable total, finishing on 138-8 having raced along at 7 an over for most of their innings to set up far and away the biggest run chase of the day. For Yorkshire, Katie Levick (3-21) once again starred with the ball, and at one point it looked like she had well and truly spoiled Surrey’s party, racking up 2 wickets in the space of 3 balls to leave her opponents 68-5 with 9 overs still left to face.

But a rallying effort from Surrey’s no. 8 and 10, Aylish Cranstone (29*) and Molly Sellars (20*), ensured a strong finish for the home side.

Yorkshire’s reply was held together by Maddie Walsh, as they pushed forward towards their target, keeping up with the rate but losing wickets steadily along the way. When Walsh was out for 25 in the 14th over, pushing the ball into the hands of Amy Gordon at midwicket, it looked as if her side might fall well short – 6 wickets down and still needing 50 runs – but some sloppy fielding from Surrey almost cost them dearly, with Yorkshire still in with a shout until the last ball of the match.

It was left down to captain Cecily Scutt to bowl the final over; and for a minute it looked as if Surrey might have thrown it all away, as her first two balls were dispatched to the boundary by Izzy Bunn. Bunn, though, was caught on the leg side trying to repeat the feat, and Scutt then kept her cool to ensure the last three balls each went for only a single – Surrey winning by 3 runs.

— Raf Nicholson

OPINION: KSL 50 Is Dead… So Make The County Championship Count!

The news that plans for a “KSL-50” – a 50-over Super League to accompany the T20 KSL – have officially been abandoned (link) means that the Women’s County Championship is set to muddle-along for the next couple of years at least.

The problem with the KSL-50 was that it was the wrong thing to do in practice – there was no space for it in the calendar and the overseas stars who make the KSL what it is were not going to be available for a much longer competition with a very small budget.

But in principle, an elite 50-over competition is a “must” if England are going to look to successfully retain their World Cup in four years time – somewhere to blood the new players we will need by then, given that several members of the current team are unlikely to make it to 2021.

When the KSL-50 was first mooted, the suggestion was that the County Championship would become an “Age Group” feeder competition; but in a way that has already happened – with the England players mostly unavailable due to World Cup commitments, this was always going to be a year when the counties needed to raid their age-group squads for new talent.

But ironically, the KSL has actually made things worse in some cases, as older “county” players have found the pressure of County + KSL + Job + Life too much, and have decided to call it a day with cricket.

So whilst Australia press-on with the full-scale professionalisation of their domestic structures – both 50 and 20-over – we have Div 1 counties fielding teams of teenagers, with a dearth of senior players to support them as they inevitably struggle.

The importance of having senior players on the pitch can’t be underestimated. Earlier this year, I saw a young fast bowler struggling, as she sent down two wides at the start of an over. She was wobbling; but New Zealand wicket-keeper Rachel Priest came over… had a chat… and the bowler bounced back to take 2 brilliant wickets in the spell!

But without those senior players, the County Championship will count for less and less.

The good news is that there is a relatively easy fix – arrange the calendar so that all the England players can play all of the County Championship. After all – it is in the name – it is a County Championship… so make it count!

KSL: Full Squads Announced

The ECB have today announced the full squads for this year’s edition of KSL, which starts on Thursday 10 August and runs until Finals Day on Friday 1 September.

The squads are as follows:

Lancashire Thunder

  • Danielle Hazell (C)
  • Sarah Taylor
  • Kate Cross
  • Amy Satterthwaite
  • Jess Jonassen
  • Lea Tahuhu
  • Sophie Ecclestone
  • Emma Lamb
  • Eve Jones
  • Ellie Threlkeld
  • Natasha Miles
  • Natalie Brown
  • Alice Dyson
  • Rachel Dickinson
  • Ella Telford

Loughborough Lightning

  • Georgia Elwiss (C)
  • Amy Jones
  • Beth Langston
  • Ellyse Perry
  • Kristen Beams
  • Elyse Villani
  • Paige Scholfield
  • Thea Brookes
  • Georgia Boyce
  • Becky Grundy
  • Sonia Odedra
  • Marie Kelly
  • Sarah Glenn
  • Lucy Higham
  • Abi Freeborn

Southern Vipers

  • Charlotte Edwards (C)
  • Tash Farrant
  • Danni Wyatt
  • Arran Brindle
  • Suzie Bates
  • TBC – 3rd overseas*
  • Hayley Matthews
  • Georgia Adams
  • Katie George
  • Linsey Smith
  • Ellen Burt
  • Tara Norris
  • Izzy Collis
  • Carla Rudd
  • Charlie Dean

Surrey Stars

  • Nat Sciver (C)
  • Tammy Beaumont
  • Laura Marsh
  • Alex Hartley
  • Marizanne Kapp
  • Harmanpreet Kaur
  • Rene Farrell
  • Bryony Smith
  • Sophia Dunkley
  • Grace Gibbs
  • Aylish Cranstone
  • Cordelia Griffith
  • Hannah Jones
  • Naomi Dattani
  • Kirstie White

Western Storm

  • Heather Knight (C)
  • Anya Shrubsole
  • Fran Wilson
  • Holly Huddleston
  • Stafanie Taylor
  • Rachel Priest
  • Georgia Hennessy
  • Sophie Luff
  • Freya Davies
  • Danielle Gibson
  • Claire Thomas
  • Lauren Parfitt
  • Jodie Dibble
  • Amara Carr
  • Alice Macleod

Yorkshire Diamonds

  • Lauren Winfield (C)
  • Katherine Brunt
  • Jenny Gunn
  • Chamari Atapattu (Replaces Beth Mooney*)
  • Sune Luus
  • Sophie Devine
  • Hollie Armitage
  • Alice Davidson-Richards
  • Anna Nicholls
  • Katie Levick
  • Katie Thompson
  • Steph Butler
  • Laura Crofts
  • Teresa Graves
  • Maddie Walsh

* Beth Mooney (Yorkshire Diamonds) and Dane van Niekerk (Southern Vipers) have withdrawn through injury and their replacements will be announced in due course.

INTERVIEW: Cecily Scutt – Surrey Skipper On Life In Div 2… And Getting Back To Div 1

2016 was a tough season for Surrey. After 5 years in Division 1 of the Women’s County Championship, including a second-placed finish in 2014, they were relegated to Division 2 having lost 7 of their 8 games.

But for long-standing county captain Cecily Scutt – now in her 9th season with the club, and with 91 wickets to her name, closing in on the big 100-wicket milestone – this wasn’t the time to cut and run:

“Relegation was hard because I felt a lot of responsibility personally; but I don’t think that is the time for a captain to leave, when their team gets relegated. We have a very young side, so if I were to leave at that point it would have left a lot of people on their own – Bryony Smith who is pushing to play for England; Alex Travers, Amy Gordon, and Rhianna Southby, who are all trying to develop their games – if I can take the pressure off them with the captaincy, then we’ll give them the best platform we can.”

Two particularly exciting prospects are 18-year-old Hannah Jones and Aylish Cranstone, who has moved to Surrey after 5 years at Devon, to try to push her career forwards after being selected in the Surrey Stars KSL squad last season:

“Hannah has been bowling really well and taking lots of wickets – she sticks to her line and length, and plays really positively with the bat – she is starting to enjoy it a lot I think, which is good to see; and Aylish adds a lot of energy – she is really busy – working it into the gaps and running really well between the wickets, so she is a real asset for us.”

Reflecting on life in Div 2, the word that Scutt uses is “different”:

“It is a different game, but it’s been alright actually – it has been different but it has been positive. Everyone has found out more about the way that they play and had the opportunity to score a lot of runs, so we’ve gained a lot of confidence which has been nice and a lot of the younger girls are doing really well, which is good to see.”

One player who made the most of her opportunities in Div 2 was England’s Nat Sciver, who smashed back-to-back not-out centuries against Hampshire and Staffs:

“It was good for Nat going into the World Cup off the back of a couple of hundreds – her success is so deserved – she has worked really, really hard, and it is amazing – we love it!”

Now with 2 rounds remaining of the 2017 County Championship, it could hardly be closer at the top of Div 2, with Somerset, Hampshire, Surrey and Devon all on 4 wins from 5, and Surrey currently sitting 3rd on bonus points in the battle for one of the two promotion spots back to Div 1, with fixtures against Somerset and Devon to come:

“The last 2 games will be quite tough – Somerset will be a hard game – they are playing pretty well. We played them in the T20 and they beat us, but it was close; so we’ll try and win and give ourselves the best chance we can to get promoted.”

“We want to be playing Div 1 cricket – that’s our aim. There is a difference between the divisions and while I think it has been good for us – we’ve had a chance to regroup and everyone has learned a lot – we would like to be playing Div 1 cricket!”

NEWS: Statistician Marion Collin Honoured At Lord’s

On Sunday at Lord’s, women’s cricket statistician Marion Collin was honoured with a special presentation by ECB Director of Women’s Cricket, Clare Connor.

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Clare Connor with Marion Collin at Lord’s

Marion has chosen this summer to end a 44-year career devoted to the collation of statistics in women’s cricket. The day that England won a World Cup was not a bad one to go out on, as it happens.

Her involvement in cricket began at school, and she went on to play for the Redoubtables Women’s Cricket Club in Surrey. Fellow club member Margaret Dickens, then official keeper of the England Women statistics, passed over the baton to Marion in 1973.

In 1995 she took early retirement from her job as local government finance officer to begin collating statistics for the International Women’s Cricket Council (then the international governing body of women’s cricket) full-time.

When the ICC took over in 2005, she retained her position as Honorary Women’s Cricket Statistician.

It has not been an easy job, involving many hours of communications with those in countries all around the world to ensure a complete record now exists of all international women’s cricket since the first Test match was played in December 1934.

Marion has also overseen the transition from pen and paper to computer scoring: it took four years of work to ensure that all the paper scorecards which she had collected were slowly and painstakingly made available online.

Since we at CRICKETher have been covering women’s cricket, Marion has been a constant presence in the press box, always ready with the latest stat to enhance our writing. We’d like to say congratulations, and thank her for her long service to our sport.

OPINION: Women’s Cricket At The Olympics – The Devil Is In The Details

Following the commercial success of the recent Women’s World Cup, the idea of bringing cricket (back) to the Olympic Games appears to be back on the table.

The idea seems to be that it would be a T20 competition, and that one of the World T20s, currently held every 2 years, would be sacrificed to make space for it in the calendar.

The key advantage would be increased funding, especially for the “Associate” nations, which could see big increases in their budgets; but elsewhere the arguments seem less clear-cut.

The suggestion that this would be an 8-team tournament, with the Caribbean nations competing separately, is particularly problematic. Although various Caribbean nations have previously competed independently in Women’s World Cups, the strength in depth just isn’t there to support them being competitive, especially given that Great Britain (which would basically be England), Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and India would all be at full-strength – if you thought the West Indies v South Africa was a mismatch last month in Leicester, you ain’t seen nothing yet!!

One big winner, potentially, could be Ireland, who would on current form walk into a prospective second European qualifying spot. The increased profile it could give the game there would be fantastic; and obviously they would welcome the money; but what Ireland really need on the pitch is more regular international competition – i.e. a place in the Women’s International Championship – not a once-every-four-years chance to be smashed into smithereens by the big girls.

Even for the top sides there are potential issues – you don’t need to look further than this week’s furore over England’s women’s rugby contracts, as they struggle to balance the short-term priority of the 7-a-side Olympic game with the longer-term health of the nascent 15-a-side professional setup, to get a hint of some of the problems we might be facing down the line if this is a road we choose to go down.

Our suspicion is that this if remains a big one – although it is true that the Olympics gave a big recent fillip to women’s football in this country; the boost that it gave to women’s “soccer” after their triumph in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics proved somewhat illusory, followed as it was by a literal “bust” which left the game there basically bankrupt by 2003.

And of course all this is assuming that some of the more prosaic issues like sponsorship and TV rights, currently allocated globally and with all manner of exclusivity clauses could be sorted… though to be fair the fight between Pepsi and Coke over that one could be an Olympic sport all by itself!!

Cricket in the Olympics sounds like a nice idea – global and inclusive; but the devil is always in the details, and our guess is that once this becomes clear, it just ain’t gonna happen.

#WWC17 WORLD CUP FINAL: Talking Points

Pace bowling

Before today only Marizanne Kapp could really claim a rightful place as a pace bowler in any team of the tournament: it’s been not just a batsman’s tournament, but one dominated by spin as well. What a time for that all to change.

Two of the greats of the game today showed exactly why they are considered such: firstly Jhulan Goswami, whose spell of 3 wickets for 2 runs in 10 balls changed the course of England’s innings. Then Anya Shrubsole wreaked utter havoc, finishing with the best ever figures in a World Cup final and proving precisely why the inswinging yorker is her trademark delivery. It wasn’t even a particularly seam friendly pitch. It just proves that when you need them to, your best bowlers will come good, every time.

DRS

As the first women’s tournament where DRS has been in use, today was again a mixed bag for both sides – for England, Lauren Winfield overturned an incorrect LBW decision, but Nat Sciver later proved that it isn’t only male cricketers who will use DRS out of hope rather than good judgement. India, too, struggled: Punam Raut asking for a review but being turned down because the umpire said she had taken too long to reach her decision.

It’s been a big ask for female players to become accustomed to DRS in such a short space of time, especially when it’s only available at certain matches – it’s not like you can have a “DRS net session” – but that didn’t stop Heather Knight being pretty unequivocal about her views on its use post-match: “I think it’s a brilliant addition to the game… it’s important that it continues [being used].” I agree. Let’s hope the ICC do as well.

Bottom order contributions

“Batting is something everybody needs to do”, Mithali Raj said in the post-match press conference. She couldn’t have hit the nail on the head more if she tried. The key difference between the sides today was the fact that India’s last 7 wickets fell for 28 runs – whereas Jenny Gunn and Laura Marsh were able to put on 32 runs between Katherine Brunt being run out in the 46th over and the end of England’s innings. “The last 4 or 5 [Indian] batters couldn’t handle the pressure,” admitted Mithali.

In fact, since their loss to India in game one, England haven’t been bowled out in this tournament, and that’s been crucial to their success. In the Australia match it was Gunn and Katherine Brunt putting on 85 for the 7th wicket which dragged them up to a competitive total – in the semi-final against South Africa Gunn and Fran Wilson put on 40 for the same. Most teams say they bat deep. England actually do.

New England

New England still get things wrong: Sarah Taylor does, occasionally, miss stumpings; Heather Knight does drop catches (and so does Jenny Gunn). But they also never give up. They looked absolutely dead in the water today, and then the miracle happened. One minute I’m eating scones at the back of the press box, the next Anya Shrubsole is on fire and the game is turning on its head. Amazing to watch. Frankly, all the tributes in the world aren’t enough for Mark Robinson, who has somehow transformed this side into world-beaters.

And finally…

What a day! What a match! The atmosphere. The roar from the crowd that went up as Goswami bowled her first ball. The ticket touts lining the streets from the tube station to the ground. The queues at the gate to get in. The flags, the drummers, the kids wrapped in Indian and English flags. Whether you’re an England fan or not – what a magical, magical day for women’s cricket.

Mark Robinson: World Champion!

Wow!

Three months ago, when asked if England could win the up-coming World Cup, Mark Robinson was a bit non-committal:

“You want to win it,” he said, clearly more in hope than expectation.

Now, his New England are World Champions!

And they did it the hard way.

England didn’t dominate the tournament – the Australia game was close… the South Africa semi-final was closer… the final against India was closer still.

With two overs to go, the sensible money was still on India, needing less than a run-a-ball with two wickets in hand. But that reckoned without Anya Shrubsole, holding her nerve for the second time in the knock-out stages: against South Africa, they needed runs – Anya Shrubsole got ’em; against India, they needed wickets – she got ’em! In the end, in a batsman’s tournament, it was a bowler who stood tall at the crucial moments and grabbed hold of the trophy with her Player of the Match performance.

It is truly remarkable – the way that Mark Robinson has, in just 18 months, coaxed England to a whole new level of fitness, of professionalism, of self-belief, of sheer will to win. That has been the difference between England and the other sides – they held their nerve through mini-collapses and dropped catches; they still believed the could do it; their heads didn’t drop, and this is their reward – their World Cup.

But they have Mark Robinson to thank for it.