Charlotte Edwards has retired from international cricket. It’s difficult to imagine an English women’s player who has had more impact on the game. Edwards retires age 36, having played in the English side for two decades, and been successful across all three formats of the game.
Edwards debuted for England as a 16 year old and quickly made an impression, becoming the then-youngest player to score an ODI hundred when she was just 17. Over her career, she has scored more ODI (5992) and Twenty20 (2605) runs than any other player. She has impressive averages across all three formats of the game, including an incredible 44.10 in Tests, 38.16 in ODIs and 32.97 in Twenty20.
Not only this, but she has done much of this work as captain. She led the English side from 2005, and has had her most success in ODI and Twenty20 cricket. She has captained the side to five Ashes Series and two World Cups.
Edwards had to do it tough. There was no girls’ competition when she was growing up, so she played for her county boys’ side. She has often spoken of the way that opposition teams, particularly their parents, would snigger at her. Luckily this didn’t stop her own side seeing her potential, and she captained the Huntingdon boys from age 12 to 16. It was then that she was picked for the English women’s side.
Things were different back then. Edwards has recalled having to pay for her own kit in the days when international women still had to wear skirts. She has reflected on the way the game has changed, noting that the girls today “have got all the kit, they’re paid, they’re lucky.”
This is not just luck. It’s also been hard work. Along with former players such as Clare Connor, Edwards has been a wonderful representative for the women’s game. She has sat on committees such as the MCC World Cricket Committee, and has been an ambassador for sports charity Chance to Shine, which aims to spread the power of cricket. Edwards has spoken of the fact that when she grew up, there were no women ambassadors, particularly in cricket.
“That’s why I do everything I can to promote cricket for girls and spread the word.”
Edwards has been captain through some huge change. She was one of a group of players to see a big pay rise, enough to allow many of the English players to become full time professional cricketers. Before she was picked for the Under 19 English side, Edwards had not even known playing for her country in the women’s team was an option; she didn’t know they existed. Now, they play to huge crowds and games are televised around the world.
For all those that sniggered at her as a child captaining the boys, Edwards now has legions of fans around the world, including in Australia where she recently played in the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League.
At 36, Edwards retires as an undisputed champion of the game. She gets the last laugh.