Anya Shrubsole believes England’s dramatic Women’s World Cup triumph will prove to be a “watershed moment” for the sport.
Shrubsole was the star of the show at a sold-out Lord’s on Sunday as she tore through India’s lower order to secure a nine-run win.
The swing bowler took six for 46, including five in 19 balls, to snatch an extraordinary victory from the jaws of what appeared an inevitable defeat.
The worldwide television audience was rumoured to be around 100 million and Shrubsole says it felt like a milestone occasion for the women’s game in the country.
“I think it’s a watershed moment for women’s cricket,” said Shrubsole. “The final was a really fitting tribute to the whole tournament, which has been brilliant from start to finish.
“We obviously set out to win, but we also want to inspire women and girls to play cricket and hopefully our win, and the way we have played, has done that.”
Her heroics came just two days after father Ian posted a snap of his then nine-year-old daughter gazing across the Lord’s outfield on Twitter, along with the caption: “What a place! I’d like to play here… for England… in a World Cup final.”
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, she said: “I remember the day, I remember watching him in that game – I don’t remember saying that but I guess it just shows that dreams can come true.”
England looked out of it with India, chasing a modest target of 229, cruising along at 191 for three but Shrubsole snared Poonam Raut for 86, and the chaos began.
She added: “Once we got (Raut) out it just gave us a little bit of hope, a little chance with the new batters coming in under a huge amount of pressure.”
When Alex Hartley accounted for Sushma Verma for a duck and Shrubsole removed Veda Krishnamurthy and Jhulan Goswami in successive balls, England had a lifeline and suddenly Lord’s was hosting a thriller.
Sarah Taylor thought she had Deepti Sharma stumped, but an agonisingly drawn-out replay could not prove her foot was off the floor at the point of impact.
Yet moments later Shikha Pandey was run out, Sharma picked out Natalie Sciver off Shrubsole and India were nine down.
Unbelievably, Jenny Gunn dropped the most straightforward catch of the match, and maybe even the tournament, from Rajeshwari Gayakwad just to ramp up the tension even further.
But Shrubsole got the job done with the next ball, clean bowling Gayakwad to spark celebrations on the pitch and bedlam in the stands.
“It’s still pretty surreal to be honest,” said Shrubsole, who had seen Sciver top-score with 51 in England’s 228 for seven.
“It’s something that will take a couple of days to really sink in, but what an amazing day.
“You’ve always got to believe you can win no matter what the score and no matter what the game situation. We fought until the end and it came off.”