Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Charlotte Edwards

Wednesday, 11 May 2016
Today England captain Charlotte Edwards retired from international cricket, after 20 years as a player and 10 years as captain. Maybe it is the right time, and maybe it isn't so much of a surprise after coach Mark Robinson's comments about player fitness after the recent World Twenty20. Still, it represents the end of an era for the England women's team, and a moment to reflect on the impact she has had in the game.

I haven't met many cricketers, but I have met Charlotte Edwards. When I was fourteen, she came to my club to run a few of the weekly coaching sessions. At the time, the women's team didn't have so much media coverage and exposure, so really I knew relatively little about them compared to the men. But Charlotte Edwards was one of the players I had heard of, and there was a huge buzz about having the England captain coming to run these sessions. Memories of the sessions are bit more blurry now, though I do remember a conversation we shared almost word-for-word. But it had a huge impact, and as a young girl playing cricket I came away with a new hero and inspiration.

Then the following winter, Edwards led England to victory in the World Cup. The following summer they won the first women's World Twenty20, and that summer's Ashes series as well. Women's cricket was firmly on the rise, and Charlotte Edwards was at the forefront. In the following years of increasing coverage and professionalism of the women's game, Edwards was in many ways more than just the captain of the team. She was the leading figure, the go-to person to talk on these events and issues, an icon of women's cricket.

And of course, she was a leader on the pitch, as captain and with the bat. The figures speak for themselves. Four Ashes series wins, victories in global tournaments, captaining England over 200 times in all formats. 2605 runs in Twenty20 internationals, more than anyone playing the game, man or woman. 309 appearances across all formats over a career spanning twenty years. A Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2014 and awarded a CBE by the Queen. A 20-year international career - when she started playing, the women's team would wear skirts - is the kind of longevity almost unheard of in the modern game.

The World Cup at home in 2017 had promised to be her swansong, but in sport you rarely get the chance to write your own scripts. With a new coach looking to build with a group of younger players, the decision was made to move on without her. Certainly she remains one of England's finest and most consistent batsmen - still the team's leading runscorer at the recent World Twenty20 - but with an increasing emphasis on fitness she was falling behind.

It is a moment that represents the end of an era for this England team, and like many I am intrigued by what the future holds. But still I will be sad to see her go. She is simply an icon of the sport, and for women's sport as a whole, and on a personal level she was my cricketing hero. Thank you, Charlotte Edwards, for all you have brought to the game.

1 comment:

  1. Let's cut through some of the bits. The world of fitness still allows chunky mountains like Rory Kleinveldt, Mark Cosgrove, Richard Levi etc to play professional cricket despite the men's game having more competition for professional berths. A certain pizza loving Australia leg spinner didn't do so badly considering his less than ultra-trim physique. In this case, she's still the leading batsman with absolutely no real competition around to replace her (the lack of competition might be why certain people get all squiffy about Tammy Beaumont hitting a six and look over her paucity of half-centuries).

    There's then the issue of Edwards casting a shadow over any future captain. Apparently she might intimidate other players and has been responsible for stopping other players from developing. If this is the case, then those other players are weak and shouldn't be anywhere near the international setup. They also shouldn't be in the WSL. If you can't handle playing alongside Lottie, how are you going to handle playing with Lanning or Perry?

    It's quite obvious that she's been dumped out because Robinson doesn't want her casting any shadow over his coaching regime. Irrespective of whoever is made captain, it is Robinson's team first and foremost. He was successful at county level, coached the Lions, and was in the running for the England men's job. When Marks Dobson and Lane were England coach, they were low profile coaches working with a higher profile captain. It's the other way around now. Robinson is the one under the microscope and so he is exerting control.

    Lottie has been around for ages. I remember watching her first international century, following her travails online when she duffed up her knees (I have similar knee sympathies), and all the modern stuff. She should have been treated far far better than this.


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