By Wisden India Staff in Mirpur
“I’m sure there will be a few words exchanged but there won’t be any swearing,” says England Women captain ahead of Sunday showdown
"No doubt we want to go one better than we did in Sri Lanka, but we are not focusing on revenge," she said, reflecting on its four-run loss in the 2012 World T20 final. "What we’re focused on is winning this trophy and, for that, you need to be calm. Those who can deal with the bigger occasion tomorrow will come out winners."
Both sides have played a never-ending cycle of matches since August last year. In the recently concluded Ashes series in Australia in January, England won the one-off Test at Perth, but Australia had the better of the exchanges in the limited-overs format.
But recent history wasn’t making Edwards lose sleep. "I don’t think that series will have a bearing," she said. "The two Ashes series were close. We had a fantastic series in Australia, but these are completely different conditions out here. Both teams are playing well and we are prepared for every eventuality they come up with. As I said, both teams know each other so well, so it works both ways."
Cricket’s oldest rivalry isn’t short of excitement on or off the field. Drawing parallels to the men’s game, Edwards said the rivalry in the women’s arena was equally big and the matches were as intense, insisting that off-field relations had never soured as a result. “I’m sure there will be a few words exchanged tomorrow between two sides desperate to win, but surely there won’t be any swearing,” laughed Edwards.
“I think, off the field, we get on really well, it is the biggest rivalry in cricket, but we have a huge amount of respect for one another. But we will try and do all our talking with the bat and ball.”
Edwards is the leading run-scorer for England in the tournament so far with 187 runs in five innings. The batting looks top heavy and the middle order is yet to come into its own, but England’s bowlers have risen to the occasion time and again.
One of the reasons for their success has been Anya Shrubsole, the new ball bowler, who has taken over the responsibility of leading the attack in the absence of the injured Katherine Brunt. "For someone so young, she has a great cricketing brain, we spend a lot of time together talking cricket, she is a sports geek, she loves her cricket," said Edwards of the 22-year-old Shrubsole. "It’s great to have her on the pitch side. She has had injuries in the past but I think over the last year she has played her best cricket. She is going to have a huge future ahead of her, if she isn’t injured the signs are good. The best part about her is she has all the skills and to back it all up is fantastic.”
England, winner of the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2009, is in its third final and the latest appearance comes at a time when the players are on the verge of becoming fully professional.
As a captain, at the helm since 2006, Edwards was happy with the rewards and recognition women’s cricket has received in recent times, even if the winner gets just $US 70,000 as compared to the $US 1.5 million the men stand to get. “Money does not motivate me, it’s the trophy that means everything to me,” said Edwards. “I don’t even know how much money we win if we won this tournament; it’s not a driver for me personally.
“Coming to the game on the whole, I thought West Indies played really well and, at some point, I thought we would be playing them in the final. Possibly (lack of) big-game experience let them down in the end.
"Australia have had that in recent times; we are fortunate our Ashes series have been shown on television so we are used to playing in big matches. But I have been impressed by the standards in this competition. Some fantastic games were played in Sylhet. I thought New Zealand were unlucky not to get here. So the future looks bright definitely. At the moment, you’d think England and Australia are standouts but the other teams are coming up to our heels quickly.”