Warwickshire Women’s all-rounder Jenny Gunn and England will have glory in their sights at Lord’s on Sunday when they face India in the World Cup final.
After beating South Africa in a thrilling semi-final on Tuesday, Heather Knight’s team will now strive to finish the job and lift the trophy in front of at a sell-out crowd at Lord’s.
And they will be aiming to emulate their predecessors of 1973 who came out on top in the inaugural Women’s World Cup – when they beat Australia in the final at Edgbaston.
Lord’s will be a wonderful setting for the 2017 final, but it was Edgbaston, so often the home of innovation in English cricket down the years, which led the way by hosting the first Women’s World Cup final, 44 years ago.
Those who watched the morning’s performance will not easily forget the sparkle of the game in the excellent setting of Edgbaston under a cloudless sky.Netta Rheinberg
Of 21 venues used in the tournament, only two – Edgbaston and Hove – were county headquarters while the organisers were thrilled to have a Test match venue to host the final. And July 28, 1973, the day of that final, when England beat Australia by 92 runs, was truly a landmark day for England Women’s cricket with Edgbaston providing the perfect setting as Netta Rheinberg, a former England player and administrator, observed.
“The final ‘needle’ match between England and Australia proved to be of the highest quality and standard, producing some of the best cricket in living memory,” she reflected in Wisden.
After England chose to bat they amassed 273 for three thanks to 118 from Nottinghamshire’s Enid Bakewell and 64 from Wolverhampton great Rachael Flint (later Heyhoe-Flint). Australia then made just 187 for nine, restricted by accurate bowling supported by sharp fielding, not least from Kent’s Jill Cruwys whose “throwing from the deep would put many county players to shame,” according to Rheinberg.
Reflecting on the final, she added: “Those who watched the morning’s performance will not easily forget the sparkle of the game in the excellent setting of Edgbaston under a cloudless sky. During the afternoon, when the Australians’ turn came to bat, Princess Anne arrived to watch and stayed to present the cup at the end.”
The Women’s World Cup had truly arrived. Having tiptoed into existence on June 20, when Jamaica v New Zealand at Kew was washed out, the tournament gathered momentum over five weeks at venues from Sittingbourne to Bradford, Ealing to Exmouth and Wolverhampton to Kirby Muxloe, before peaking in the grandeur of a Test match venue.
And then came the perfect ending as England trounced the old enemy to win the World Cup. July 28, 1973 was a day of great celebration and joy at Edgbaston – it was all slightly different 13 days later when the men were back and England faced West Indies in one of the ugliest and most bad-tempered Test matches in history.