LIZZY AMMON has cast her votes for the 2013 British Sports Awards and for her, there is only one choice for Team of the Year
In amongst the fever of the men beating the Aussies 3-0, the achievements of the England women’s cricket team got a bit lost. Little more than a week after the men had raised the urn at The Oval, the women regained the Ashes after losing last time down under.
It was a magnificent achievement, beating Australia 12-4 on points under the system which was being tried for the first time. The Ashes were competed for across all formats with one Test, three one-day internationals and three Twenty 20s, with six points awarded for the Test and two points for the limited overs matches.
The points were shared in the solitary Test match at Wormsley thanks to an incredibly patient and mature maiden century by Heather Knight. Knight batted for a whopping 328 minutes to make her 157 runs.
Poised at two points apiece, the series moved on to the 50-over format. Australia got the better of England in the first match, beating England by 27 runs to go 4-2 up. But England came back strongly in the remaining two matches winning by 51 runs and five wickets respectively to take a 6-4 lead into the T20 stages.
An exquisite 77 off 57 balls by wicketkeeper batsman Sarah Taylor led England to a 15-run victory in the first T20 at Chelmsford. The second T20 saw Lydia Greenway become the hero, breaking the record for England’s highest individual score in this form of the game.
It was an innings of some composure given the circumstances. In front of a crowd of 8,000 at Southampton and chasing 128 to win, England were in trouble at 9 for 3. Greenway was given a lifeline on 10 when Australia’s keeper Jodie Fields missed a simple stumping off the bowling of Erin Osborne. In partnership with captain Charlotte Edwards, Greenway securely moved England on towards victory in a perfectly paced innings, finishing on 80 not out off just 64 balls.
Victory came with a scampered single in the 19th over and a jubilant pitch invasion by her England team mates followed. The trophy was awarded to them a few days later after their final match in Durham.
With the level of skill, fitness and professionalism that England displayed throughout the summer, it would be easy to forget that for none of these women are full-time players. They all have other jobs. Some work in cricket as Chance to Shine ambassadors, some are MCC young cricketers and some are students, but nonetheless they all have to do something other than play cricket for their country. They never moan about this or use it as an excuse not to be anything other than completely dedicated and professional.
Skipper Edwards could very easily be a candidate for captain of the year, too. Her record as England captain is outstanding. It was Taylor who provided the champagne moment of the summer, by a man or women. In the third ODI, Taylor took an astonishing catch to dismiss her wicketkeeping counterpart Fields. Anticipating Fields’ reverse-sweep, Taylor moved into position and then flung herself with a full-stretched dive to catch the ball with her right hand. Even slip would have had to dive to get to it.
Increased coverage of the women’s Ashes, helped by a couple of double headers with the men, has led to increased participation in the sport by women and girls and Edwards’ squad are truly inspirational ambassadors for women’s cricket and their Ashes win was the icing on the cake of a wonderful 2013 summer of English cricket.
They now travel to Australia to try and hold on to the Ashes using the same format and with the mix of exciting new young players like Natalie Sciver and Kate Cross together with the experience of Taylor, Brunt, Brindle and Edwards it should be another thrilling series, but one that England have every chance of winning.
- SJA member Lizzy Ammon is the assistant editor of Spin cricket magazine and reports for MSN Sport and the Sunday People
- Who get’s your vote? SJA members are invited to submit their article, of around 500 words, on why they have chosen their Sportsman, Sportswoman or Team of the Year by email here
- Or consider the other leading candidates for the British Sports Awards here
- Between now and the end of 2013, anyone wishing to join the SJA may apply, with their initial fee covering their membership through until the end of 2014 – effectively 15 months’ membership for the price of 12. Click here for more details
UPCOMING SJA EVENTS
Mon Mar 24: SJA British Sports Journalism Awards, Grand Connaught Rooms, London
Mon Apr 14: SJA Spring Golf Day: Croham Hurst GC, Surrey. Booking details to be announced