England skipper Heather Knight expects to be more of a role model to the next generation of female cricketers than male counterpart Joe Root after her side’s tension-filled nine-run victory in the Women’s World Cup final at Lord’s.
Chasing 229 for their first major trophy, India appeared to be cruising at 191-3 until a devastating spell of 5-11 in 19 deliveries from seamer Anya Shrubsole saw England snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Shrubsole’s figures of 6-46 were the best ever in a World Cup final and ensured England, now four-time tournament winners, defended their total of 228-7 in front of a sell-out crowd and ended an eight-year wait for global silverware.
Knight praised the “tough love” of coach Mark Robinson, who axed ex-captain Charlotte Edwards following England’s defeat in the semi-finals of last year’s World Twenty20, and urged the country’s cricket chiefs to build on their success.
“I really hope this can be transformative. A lot of the girls in the team got their inspiration from men’s cricketers but hopefully today we inspired a few more girls,” said Knight.
“There has never been a better time be a young girl in cricket. The ECB [England and Wales Cricket Board] are in a great position to capitalise on our win and I’m sure they will.”
At 63-3 and then 164-6 England were teetering but managed to haul themselves to a total which would have proven the highest successful World Cup final chase had India held their nerve.
All-rounder Nat Sciver top scored with 51 as Sarah Taylor hit 45, although both Katherine Brunt and Jenny Gunn, who struck 34 and 25 not out respectively, weighed in with vital lower-order contributions.
Uniting at 43-2, opener Poonam Raut and semi-final centurion Harmanpreet Kaur seized the initiative. But when Raut was dismissed for 86, India collapsed.
Gunn shelled a regulation catch to reprieve Rajeshwari Gayakwad – Knight admitted she felt her teammate had dropped the World Cup – only for Shrubsole to bowl the tail-ender next ball to stoke wild England celebrations.