(Photo: Getty Images)
By Jon Couch
DIRECTOR of Women’s Cricket, Clare Connor, believes Wisden’s recognition of England’s World Cup-winning exploits shows just how far women’s cricket has come in today’s game.
Connor told of her delight after three of the squad – captain Heather Knight, Anya Shrubsole and Nat Sciver – made history after being named among Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year, making them only the third, fourth and fifth women to ever receive the accolade.
The award, in existence since 1889 and chosen by the editor, is given to those five cricketers who’ve had the greatest influence on the preceding British summer of cricket.
Only two women had won the award previously: Claire Taylor in 2009 and Charlotte Edwards in 2014, but Connor believes the acknow-ledgment of England’s new top trio highlights the overall growth of the women’s game in recent years.
“What’s so good about it is that Wisden could have given one of the five awards this year to a woman, to Heather Knight or Anya Shrubsole for their World Cup exploits,” she said. “But to make such a statement about what a year 2017 was for the women’s game by giving three of the five is, from my point of view, wonderful recognition from one of the oldest and most respected cricket institutions.”
As well as it being a huge personal triumph for Knight, she believes the recognition is another indication of just how far the women’s game is progressing and how much further scope there is to grow.
“It’s one of the ultimate honours in cricket,” she added. “It’s something you can only ever win once.
“I think it’s a great statement from Wisden and it shows how many people watched that final and were engrossed by the tournament. It’s another great indication of where the women’s game is and of where it’s going. I’m so proud.”
Vice-captain Shrubsole, who also broke new ground by becoming the first woman to feature on the front cover of the Almanack, bowled England to victory at Lord’s last summer and has since received a number of personal accolades.
But she added: “Out of all the honours I’ve been fortunate enough to receive since the World Cup final, this is the most special. To win such a prestigious cricket award is about as good as it gets for a cricketer.”
And Sciver – who scored two centuries across the tournament as well as a crucial half-century in the final at Lord’s – beamed: “It’s an unbelievably amazing thing to have been honoured with. It’s such an old and historic part of cricket and when you look at the other names that have been included down the years you get a sense of what an achievement it is.”