Anya Shrubsole said her match-winning display in England’s Women’s World Cup final win over India at Lord’s on Sunday was proof that dreams can come true.
The 25-year-old pace bowler turned the match on its head with a spell of five wickets for 11 runs late on as England snatched a nine-run win. India were on course for victory at 191/3, chasing 229.
But they were dismissed for 219 to deny captain Mithali Raj a winner’s medal in what the star batter said was her last World Cup match.
Just days before the final Ian Shrubsole, Anya’s father, tweeted a picture of his then nine-year-old daughter watching him play in a club final at Lord’s, with the caption: “What a place! I’d like to play here... for England... in a World Cup final.”
Following her stunning display in front of a sold-out Lord’s, Shrubsole, whose return of six for 46 was the best by any bowler in a Women’s World Cup final, joked: “Dad’s Twitter profile has gone through the roof!
“If someone had said to me that all this time later I’d be at Lord’s, winning a World Cup final, I would have laughed them away – you never think that sort of thing happens.”
“Dreams can come true”
Recalling that childhood visit to Lord’s, Shrubsole told BBC Radio Five Live: “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.”
This World Cup altered many entrenched perceptions regarding women’s cricket, with Kapil Dev, captain of the India side that won the 1983 men’s World Cup final at Lord’s, telling the Hindu newspaper: “Mithali’s team too has won the hearts of the nation.
“I know that not every daughter will become a champion, but I am sure that the mindset of parents is bound to change now.”
He added: “Honestly, I was not a keen follower of women’s cricket, but I am their biggest fan now. I am sure... people will pray to be blessed with daughters. Hats off to them.”
Shrubsole agreed this World Cup had marked a turning point for the women’s game, with the final drawing a global television audience of 100 million according to some estimates.
“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.”
As for the thrilling conclusion to the final, Shrubsole – also involved in a run-out – said: “Once we got Raut it just gave us a little bit of hope, a little chance with the new batters coming in under a huge amount of pressure.”
There threatened to be a late twist when, with India nine wickets down but still in sight of victory, Jenny Gunn dropped an easy catch to reprieve No 11 Rajeshwari Gayakwad.
But Shrubsole – who struck a first-ball four to seal a two-wicket semi-final win over South Africa after England almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory – bowled Gayakwad next ball.
In the end, England’s total in the final of 228/7, featuring Natalie Sciver’s 51 and valuable late-order runs had proved just enough.
“It’s still pretty surreal to be honest,” said Shrubsole.
“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.”