The England women’s cricket team has come a tremendously long way in the modern-day era. Since playing their first official Test matches in 1934-35, there is a sense of pride and professionalism that now pervades through everything the England women’s cricket team touches. That’s not to say there was a lack of professionalism in the early days, but it is certainly true that the women’s game is now taken more seriously and enjoyed by a broader demographic both on the British Isles and beyond.
Much of that is due to the groundwork laid by some of the most influential personalities in the England women’s cricket setup, both on the field and behind the scenes. Women’s sport and other competitive professions in England have been turbocharged by so many influential stars.
Jessica Ennis-Hill was the “face of London 2012” after taking gold in the heptathlon of her home Games. Ennis-Hill has proven a huge inspiration for young female athletes in subsequent years. Similarly, Nicola “Babyface” Adams has changed the game for women’s boxing in the UK, winning Olympic gold and becoming one of the most prominent LGBT figures in English sport. In other competitive pursuits like professional poker, English star Liv Boeree became the only female player in the world to win a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet and a European Poker Tour (EPT) event. Boeree is one of the most recent female pioneers of poker in what used to be considered a male-dominated pastime.
The female figures to thank for the rise of the England women’s cricket team
45-year-old Clare Connor CBE has been at the heart of the revolution of women’s cricket in England. When she assumed the helm as managing director of women’s cricket at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), less than 100 female cricket clubs existed in 2007. Under her charge, the women’s national team turned professional and set a magnificent standard for other sports to follow. Connor also received the honour of being nominated as the next President of the iconic Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), the first female President in the MCC’s 233-year heritage.
Connor has already been appointed a board member of Sport England and many believe she stands a great chance of landing the top job as chairwoman of the overall ECB. Connor played with distinction in her playing days too, earning 120 caps in the England Test team. As a left-arm spinner, Connor achieved the historic moment of a hat-trick against the Indian women’s team in 1999.
Charlotte Edwards also received an MBE and CBE for her services to cricket, boasting an international cricket career spanning two decades. Charlotte Edwards is the former captain of the England women’s team and only retired from all forms of cricket back in 2017. As skipper, Edwards oversaw one of the most successful eras in modern-day women’s cricket for England. She led the team to a hat-trick of successful Ashes victories, as well as becoming world champions in the short forms of the game – both one-day international (50 over) and Twenty20.
Edwards held the record for being the youngest capped player in the England women’s team until 2005 when Holly Colvin broke the record. Edwards featured 123 times for the women’s Test side as well as 73 appearances in the ODI squad. A batting average of 44.1 at Test level is hugely impressive. Such was her impact on women’s cricket that the English T20 competition has been named the Charlotte Edwards Cup in her honour.
Charlotte Edwards’ teammate Claire Taylor is another stalwart of England’s modern-day women’s team. She also became the world’s first female cricketer to be named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year. Such was her impact at the top of the order for the England Test and ODI side. Like Edwards, Taylor’s batting average in Test and ODI cricket finished in excess of 40 runs per innings, which is hugely impressive considering appearing 127 and 78 times at Test and ODI level respectively.
Taylor was also at the heart of the England women’s team’s iconic 2009 season, which saw them become double world champions at ODI and T20 formats. Taylor was the leading run scorer at the 2009 Women’s Cricket World Cup and also hit an unbeaten 76 against arch-rivals Australia to help England to the final of the first Women’s World Twenty20 tournament.
This trio of stalwarts have helped take women’s cricket in England to new heights. The 2022 Women’s Cricket World Cup is fast approaching, and England are sure to be one of the leading contenders.
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