Not since 1993 has the ICC Women’s World Cup come to England, but if its previous two hosting experiences are anything to go by, this year will be worth the wait.
For the 2017 host, the ICC WWC has been about more than just putting on a show. England is the only team to win the competition each time it’s been on home soil.
Yet, with seven other teams eager to show what they can do, the road to Lord’s on 23 July will be an exciting journey.
And with the countdown towards the 11th edition rapidly approaching, there’s no better moment for a trip or two back in time – to 1973 and 1993.
Breaking new ground
The 1973 ICC WWC marked a new era, not only in women’s cricket but the game as a whole – the first ICC Cricket World Cup for men was not to come until 1975.
The maiden tournament saw seven teams feature in a round-robin format, with host England, Australia and New Zealand beginning a run which has seen them feature in all 10 tournaments to date. They were joined by an International XI – which would also play in 1982 – while Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and a Young England side took to the global stage.
A new ground was used for each of the 21 matches as the competition toured the country, with the final match between table-topper Australia and England effectively becoming a winner-takes-all encounter on 28 July, 1973, at Edgbaston.
Royal approval for Heyhoe-Flint
It was her influence that initially made the 1973 Women’s World Cup a possibility, so it was fitting that Rachael Heyhoe-Flint would lead her country to cricket’s very first limited-overs worldwide trophy.
She would later become a Baroness, the first woman to be inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in 2010-11 and, after her sad death earlier this year, will have an ICC annual award named after her for the best female cricketer of the year.
With Australia leading the standings heading into the final round-robin match, England had to win and Enid Bakewell – who topped the tournament runs table with 264 runs at an average of 88 – scored 118, following up her century in the tournament opener against the International XI.
Heyhoe-Flint aided the cause with a composed 64 – despite later admitting nerves in taking four overs to score her first run – while Bakewell also starred with the ball to take two for 28 as Australia made 187 for nine in 60 overs.
That was enough for Heyhoe-Flint to be presented the trophy by Her Royal Highness Princess Anne.
West Indies and Denmark take to the stage
With the game continuing to evolve, 1993 saw two new teams welcomed to the ICC WWC for the fifth edition.
The West Indies made its bow, while Denmark became the fourth European team – alongside host England, Ireland and the Netherlands – in the competition.
England’s batters shone once again as Jan Brittin and Carole Hodges registered two hundreds each, but it was the bowlers who came to the fore – with just one scalp separating the top-five on the wicket-taking list and England’s Karen Smithies and Julie Harris of New Zealand both grabbing 15 wickets.
New Zealand and England surprise Australia as cricket hits the press
Having won each of the three previous tournaments, it was little surprise that Australia headed into the 1993 edition as the favourite.
But with England, runner-up on all three occasions, and New Zealand – which had finished third in all four previous tournaments – there was plenty of talent waiting in the wings.
And so it proved, as both beat Australia in the round-robin stage, including a Kiwi victory by 10 wickets in Beckenham.
New Zealand was to also defeat the host for a perfect round-robin record but the tables turned in the showpiece match at Lord’s as England scored 195 for five from its 60 overs, including 48 from Brittin.
New Zealand was bowled out for 128 in reply and, on 1 August, 1993, England was the World Cup winner for a second time.
The then-president of the MCC, Dennis Silk, also labelled the day as “the best at Lord’s this year with a magical atmosphere.”
Onwards and upwards to 2017
The fascinating journey of England hosting women’s cricket’s premier competition does not end there.
This summer, the best eight teams will converge on five grounds looking to show what they can do, in what promises to be an exciting, memorable competition.