With exactly 50 days to go until the first ball of the Women’s World Cup is bowled, former England captain Charlotte Edwards has praised the ICC’s continuing commitment to developing women’s cricket across the globe.
On Thursday, cricket’s world governing body announced their decision to increase the prize money at this year’s tournament to $2 million, a tenfold increase of that at the 2013 edition in India.
In addition to the increased financial incentive, every ball of the tournament in England and Wales - which takes place from June 24 to July 3 - will be broadcast live, with 21 fixtures set to be live-streamed and ten to be televised.
Edwards, who lifted the World Cup title herself in 2009, will switch from the crease to the microphone in June, taking on a commentary role following her retirement from international cricket in 2016.
But having witnessed first-hand the growth of the game during her 20-year career in the England whites, Edwards was among the first to express her delight as women’s sport breaks through yet another glass ceiling.
“It’s just fantastic news, the ICC’s commitment to women’s cricket has just been amazing over the last few years,” said Edwards, who skippered the national side for a decade.
“The 50-over World Cup is the pinnacle of the women’s game, and to think that the players are going to be properly rewarded for that is absolutely brilliant.
“The ICC have made a massive step forward for women’s sport now. Cricket has led the way, certainly in this country, and hopefully all the governing bodies will follow suit.
“They have certainly seen the appetite for women’s cricket globally. They got 18 million views of their broadcast of the qualifiers and that shows that they want to grow the game and attract as many young girls to cricket.
“To think that every game is now going to be broadcast is going to be absolutely fantastic for people all over the world who want to capture this World Cup and I’m looking forward to everyone all over the world having the opportunity to watch these wonderful players.
“It’s going to be a slightly different angle for me this year but commentating is the closest I can get to the action, and it’s going to be absolutely brilliant.”
Edwards was speaking as the Nissan Trophy Tour reached Bristol on its journey around England and Wales, taking both the ICC Women’s World Cup and ICC Champions Trophy silverware to tournament venues in the lead up to both events.
She was joined by current New Zealand captain Suzie Bates - set to skipper the White Ferns at a second World Cup having been named Player of the Tournament in 2013 - who predicts competition of unprecedented quality is on the cards this summer.
“It’s really exciting how close the World Cup is. I think it’s going to be one of the closest World Cups we have seen,” she said.
“The eight teams have all beaten each other at some stage and the levels have really improved over the last few years, especially since the last World Cup.
“I think the exposure that we’re getting and will get is going to be more than ever.
“My career has been close to 11 years I think and when I started, cricket was very much a hobby for all of the girls.
“They had other jobs - we had policewomen, lawyers and vets in the side, who played cricket on a weekend and if you were lucky, you went and played for New Zealand which involved a couple of tours.
“There wasn’t a lot of money in it, but you did it for the love, but in the past five years, the game has changed around the world.
“But it’s not just cricket, it’s women’s sport in general and it’s exciting for girls all around the world that they can have sport as a profession, and I think cricket is leading the way.”
The ICC Champions Trophy (1-18 June) and ICC Women’s World Cup (24 June – 23 July) will both see the best eight ODI teams in the world compete for glory in England & Wales this summer. Tickets available at icc-cricket.com/tickets