The most capped women’s ODI player of all time, the most decorated England captain – man or woman – ever; Charlotte Edwards is one of the most successful sportspeople in the nation’s history. Her contribution to the development and promotion of the women’s game is ongoing, and as England Women approach a year of rich possibility, she told Ed Kemp there’s plenty more to do.
So, Charlotte, it’s a massive year coming up – you must look back to winning everything in 2009 and think you wouldn’t mind doing that again…
Yes, and for many of the team we know what we experienced then and we want to experience it again, but for the young girls in the team who haven’t experienced it before there is that extra anticipation; they really want to win World Cups.
How does it feel going into these tournaments having won them before?
As a management team we think it’s important not to rest on our laurels. We want to make this team the best team ever to have played. There is no better chance to do that and it’s something that is really motivating me; it’s hugely exciting and it’s great that I’ve still got that big buzz, even though I’m getting to the end of my career now.
You say you’re coming to the end of your career but you seem to be playing better than ever…
Oh yeah, look, without a doubt I’m playing the best cricket I’ve ever played. You know when you get to this point you’ve got to keep playing and making the most of it. A lot of people keep asking when I’m going to stop playing; I’ll stop playing when I’m ready but it’d be stupid to stop now when you’ve sussed it all out. You’ve worked out what you’re all about and you just go out there and enjoy it. I think you work it out as a batter; you’re always getting better. I’ve experienced a lot in cricket and I think I’ve got a lot of experience to fall back on, so you gain confidence from that. I’ve got a great team around me now and you can really show off your skills a bit more when you know you’ve got real depth. Those girls who five years ago were youngsters are now experienced players within our team. We’ve got a lot of experience although we’re still relatively young.
It’s obviously a demanding job combining the captaincy with your Chance to Shine role – when you get some downtime what do you get up to?
I don’t really, I just like my cricket, so if I’m not playing it’s still cricket! My idea of a good Saturday would be watching the England men playing or an IPL game on the TV. I get a bit of stick for it, but that’s what I love and you can’t change me. As long as I’m sat on my sofa watching I’m happy. And I might pop down the shops, I don’t mind a bit of shopping every now and again. I’m a pretty easy person to please: put a cricket game on TV and give me a sofa! Simple!
Who are the teams you look at as your rivals around the world?
Australia, New Zealand and India have sort of traditionally been the teams that have dominated women’s cricket and the West Indies now in Twenty20 cricket are a dangerous team, and playing ever more cricket, which is only going to improve them as a side. The great thing about the game now is that plenty more countries are playing the game, so who knows in the next 10 years what other countries will crop up and how they will improve. Everyone is looking to England and how we’ve gone about becoming No.1 and hopefully other countries will look at our template and invest more money in women’s programmes. You’re only going to get the success if you invest money.
How about the captaincy, that’s a role you must feel pretty comfortable with these days…
I think you are always improving as a captain, as I always am as a batter. A big point of the captain is the way you communicate with the players and I think you’re always learning about yourself and other people. I’ve learnt so much over the six years I’ve done it and I guess I can only get better at it because there is so much scope to get better. When I took on the role, you don’t actually know what’s involved, and I think half the girls in the team don’t know what’s involved! But I like this bit of it – talking to journalists and so on– as it takes your mind off things, and sometimes that’s what I need. When I go out to bat I just forget about the captaincy. I like the extra pressure of it, I like the responsibility of doing it. It would be harder if the team weren’t performing, it’s easier to talk to the press when you’ve been successful!
You’ve got to take the highs and the lows, I’ve had a lot of highs and I’ve had some really big lows doing it as well. Getting knocked out of the World Twenty20 in 2010 to the West Indies before the semi-finals is probably the biggest disappointment of my career, especially when you’re expected to do well. When I was younger you’re not expected to win it, but when you are expected to win it and there is an expectation, not to get to the semi-finals is pretty embarrassing really. It hurt a lot of these girls I think; it’s been part of the catalyst for us to improve our Twenty20 cricket.
How do you assess your career when you look at it now?
I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve done. But I’ll be hurt if the success doesn’t continue; that’s the way I work. One good thing about me is that I forget about what we’ve done quite quickly and move onto the next thing and I think that’s what you need to do in any leadership role. The past is the past and it’s brilliant that we won the two World Cups in 2009 but we quite quickly lost the Twenty20 one. I move on quite quickly, on to the next big thing, I don’t get too carried away if we win or lose. That’s a good way to be as a captain.