"I really hope that the crowds come out and support, not only England, but all of the great matches we are going to see around the country," says Charlotte Edwards
Charlotte Edwards is a former England’s women’s captain who played 23 Tests, 191 ODIs and 95 T20Is between 1996 and 2015. She led England to victories in the ICC Women’s World Cup 2009 as well as the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 2009. In 2008, she won the ICC Women’s Cricketer of the Year award.
I am so excited ahead of this World Cup in England. It’s going to be the biggest and best yet. Gone are the days when you could easily predict the finalists as the gap between the nations is closing and there are some brilliant players to watch on all sides.
For England’s women, I think the ICC Champions Trophy has been a huge benefit. The limelight has been away from the girls going into the tournament and has been very much focused on the men’s game and it’s allowed the girls to go under the radar a little bit.
But now that Champions Trophy has ended and the women’s squads are together, they will start to get the attention. They’ve enjoyed good preparation time away from the spotlight and that’s always a good thing for a team going into a major event, especially with England playing at home.
I never played a 50-over World Cup in England and for me a tournament got real when we met up and boarded the plane. It’s going to be different for the England team this time as they are playing at home and will have spent a lot of time together recently and will have been playing the English season.
It will probably start to get real for them when they meet up, get on the coach and get into that team bubble.
It can work for and against you playing in a home World Cup. The great thing about playing away from home is you can keep in that bubble and keep the team really tight. At home there will be so many more distractions. It’s important they see their family and friends, but how much? And how much time are they allowed away from the group as well? I’m sure that’s something that Mark Robinson and Heather Knight will be mindful of as it is really important the girls get time away from the game, as long as that’s managed and done appropriately.
I really hope that the crowds come out and support, not only England, but all of the great matches we are going to see around the country. My experience of England is they love playing at home, running out in front of big crowds and the television cameras so I really hope and think the big match atmosphere will work in their favour. I hope the crowds get behind them, I hope they see it as a positive, embrace the competition and want to play well for the crowds. When you are successful and you have that sort of support behind you there is no better feeling.
The warm-up matches are treated differently by different teams. Some teams like to play their whole squad, but when I was involved I always took them seriously and I don’t think I’ve ever done anything half-hearted in my life. I always wanted to win and score as many runs as I could. Whenever I went to a World Cup the first warm-up game was like the first game of the tournament and you start as you mean to go on.
You had the same batting orders that you’d have in the World Cup and I think it’s an opportunity to send good messages out. The psychological edges you can get from practice matches as well – getting the top players out or hitting the best bowlers for runs – that sometimes sets you up for later on in the tournament. Before this event they are playing against the other countries so that gives you a reason to play every game properly.
The one thing everyone is conscious of is not getting injured ahead of a major tournament, but you’ve got to put that to the back of your mind and sometimes the more you think about those sorts of things the more they tend to happen. You have to focus on every game right from the start and I’d always being emphasising that with the team.
I think it is important England get off to a good start and then they’ll be able to play with confidence throughout. They are playing a slightly different style of cricket as Mark [Robinson] wants them to go out there and play with freedom and for them to do that in the first game against India, with the pressure of it being a World Cup game, it is important they get that good start. But, it’s not the end of the world if they don’t.
A lot of teams I’ve seen in the past have almost had an advantage in an early defeat, which has meant they’ve had to dig deep. You don’t want to be playing your best cricket too early in the tournament. It’s the team that peaks at the right time that you have to be wary of. It’s all about winning that first game and moving on to the next game with points in the bag and moving up the table. They’ll want to play in a certain style, but a wins a win in my book.
It’s been interesting to watch Pakistan men win the Champions Trophy. They started so poorly, but they played their best games at the right time and that’s the art of tournament cricket – to win games when you really need to with your best players performing.
The best news I heard before the tournament was that a lot of games will be televised and every game will be live-streamed. Having everyone in the world able to watch this tournament means we can reach a huge number of people. The ICC Women’s World Cup Qualifier in Sri Lanka last year received 18 million hits, so to think what figures this Women’s World Cup can reach is incredible.
We have this fabulous opportunity to really spread the world and we are so lucky at the moment – we’ve got so many good role models within the game, so many good players and this sets up this World Cup to be the best ever and the most watched we’ve ever seen.
It’s exciting to think that someone over the next few weeks can play their best cricket and become a household name. That’s such a fantastic prospect and why all the players should embrace this tournament. They have the biggest stage ever to perform on with millions of people watching globally and you’ve got the opportunity to become a household name.
Hopefully, some of the players will take that chance with both hands and we’ll have the new stars of the game coming to our living rooms, which is what we want to see to make the women’s game stronger.
This tournament promises to be exceptional, exciting and is exactly what we need to inspire young girls around the world. Over the next four weeks they can find their heroes and appreciate what a fantastic sport cricket is for women to play. I hope it inspires them to pick up bats and balls, go out and play and who knows, they could become the stars of the future.