As the men’s England cricket team mulled over yet another defeat in Australia, their female colleagues were battling out a vital, well-earned victory over their Australian rivals.
Taking one step closer to retaining The Ashes, England’s women forced the Australian batting order to collapse thanks to the nifty bowling of Jenny Gunn, Anya Shrubsole and Yorkshire pace bowler, Katherine Brunt.
It was Brunt’s spell with the ball that claimed the stubborn final wicket of Sarah Elliot to seal the win and edge England closer to an over-all victory. With just two wins required out of the next six Tests, it appears England’s women are well poised to venture where no Englishman has been this winter.
While team captain, Charlotte Edwards remains firm on the fact that over-confidence will not erode her team during their final few Tests, it is hard for some English fans not to get excited over the rather enticing thought of finally defeating Australia.
But let’s defy Captain Edwards and romanticise for a moment. If England’s women defeat the Aussies it will appear that the English game will have a new cast of heroines. As the saviours of English cricket they could deliver the best PR coup the ECB could have asked for. The English and Welsh Cricket Board has faced extreme pressure as the male stars toiled and collapsed, whilst the women’s side continue to stand firm and flourish, appearing to be the ECB’s saving grace.
The men’s defeat now appears to be the women’s cause. In an assumed unconscious display of support, Charlotte Edwards turned the men’s loss into the inspiration that is spurring her team on in their hunt for victory.
Whilst it could be debated that England’s women cricketers are taking the heat off the men, we can’t take away from them the great work they are not only doing for women’s cricket, but women’s sport in general in England. Over the past couple of years athletes such as Jessica Ennis-Hill, Christine Ohuruogu and Nicola Adams have been celebrated for their individual success on the global stage but could 2014 see an increase in interest in England’s female sport teams?
So, with a calendar full of elite sporting events, could 2014 be the dawn of a new era for women’s team sports? Three weeks into the start of the New Year and the England women’s cricket team already has the nation in a spin with its victorious performances against Australia – something the men failed so comprehensively to achieve.
By Victoria Hughes