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Proud to join an elite group: Belinda

Former Australia women's captain Belinda Clark believes it is a great honour to be inducted into the ICC Hall Of Fame.

Proud to join an elite group: Belinda - Cricket News
Belinda Clark
Former Australia women's captain Belinda Clark believes it is a great honour to be inducted into the ICC Hall Of Fame.

Belinda became the second female after England's Rachael Heyhoe-Flint to be inducted into the elite group.

"It is a great honour. It has been an amazing five years for women's cricket globally and recognition of female players in the ICC Hall of Fame is a great initiative and I am proud to join Rachael Heyhoe-Flint on a long list of outstanding cricketers,' said Belinda.

The former Australia star believes the induction is a recognition of the work put in by her on the field.

"It means a lot to be recognised by the international organisation and I am very proud to be included," opined Belinda.

In a long career, Belinda had a number of outstanding moments and she listed a few quite easily.

"I have so many fond memories of my playing career, the ones that stand out are when your team performs in big matches. I was lucky enough to play in some wonderful teams that were well supported by coaching and support staff and together we found success in two World Cups. However, I do remember the very first run I scored in a match of junior cricket and at the time that was my best moment!" recalled Belinda.

Still regarded highly among her peers, Belinda is credited with making Australia one of the top women's teams in the world.

"I loved playing, training and challenging myself and others to be our best. It's quite simple - if you put in the work you will get better," believed Belinda.

Even before Sachin Tendulkar scored a double hundred for the first time in men's One-Day International Cricket in 2010, Belinda had hit one in women's cricket way back in 1997. Infact Belinda's individual score of 229 not out against Denmark in the ICC Women's World Cup 1997 is still the highest individual ODI score (male or female).

"It was hot and humid in Mumbai on that day and I don't think I hit one in the middle in the first 50 but eventually my timing came," summed up Belinda.

Belinda holds a few other records as well including the most wins for an Australia women's captain. "The World Cup wins in 1997 and 2005, coupled with an unbeaten run of wins during the 1998 Ashes Tour. The wins as a captain was also tremendous," said Belinda.

Regarded highly for her captaincy skills, Belinda stated why she enjoyed the role.

"I enjoyed captaincy because I was tested every minute of every match and loved the contest between us and the opposition. I was blessed with a great bowling attack and a good fielding team and that allowed me to be adventurous at times. I also enjoyed the leadership and management that went with the role and these are the skills that you take with you beyond your playing cricket," said Belinda.

After her retirement Belinda has been involved with Cricket Australia's Centre of Excellence in Brisbane.

"My role is to manage the CA Centre of Excellence which is CA's high performance centre in Brisbane. We have a team of 18 staff that work in coaching and sport science and medicine to develop players that have the potential to play for Australia," informed Belinda.

Now 41, Belinda still misses the competitive nature of top flight international cricket. "I miss the feel and sound of a good shot off the bat and I miss the competitive and exhilaration that elite sport provides.?

In her 14-year long career, Belinda played against a variety of players. So it was hard to pick out one player or team that provided the toughest challenge.

"I enjoyed the fact we had to compete against a variety of teams with different strengths and in a variety of conditions. Playing a World Cup in India in 1997 was a huge challenge that I enjoyed immensely. The contests with New Zealand were always hardly fought and of course it's always a great thrill to play England on great cricket ovals," recalled Belinda.

In terms of her performance, Belinda is regarded as one of the few to have broken the barrier of cricket being just a men's sport.

"I have been fortunate to have played in an era when the game united men's and women's cricket as one. There have been so many women that have contributed to the sport to provide that platform for the sport to move forward and I feel very lucky to have been a beneficiary of their hard work," said a proud Belinda.

Now Belinda believes women's cricket is much stronger than what it was before the merger.

"Cricket has come a long way and the rate at which we are moving forward is great to see. Who would have thought 10 years ago that the ICC would be hosting joint men's and women's World Twenty20? By the end of 2013, cricket would have achieved this three times in 3 years - that is amazing progress," stated Belinda.

But the former Australia captain, Belinda has a few suggestions on what more can be done for the women's sport to develop further.

"If each country provides the girls and women an opportunity to play it would be a great thing. A vibrant and entertaining game at the international level needs nourishment and energy at the grass roots and countries that are providing this opportunity should be congratulated and recognised as key to the sports future," signed off Belinda.

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