Edwards began to play the game when she was very young. She was probably 10-11 years old when she realized that she wouldn’t be representing England’s men team. Of course, She was better than most of the boys who played the game with her at that time.
She was 12 when she was spotted by a spectator named Micky Dunn during a mixed cricket match. He had put her name forward for East Anglia women’s trials.
A year later, Edwards decided what she wanted to do when she grew up. It was not only to represent but to win the World Cup. Edwards got to witness the final few moments of the 1993 World Cup which England lifted by defeating New Zealand in the finals by 67 runs. The legend Brittin had a major role in England’s run. She had 416 runs in the tournament and had scored 48 runs in the final. In fact, she took a brilliant catch at the end to finish off the things. A dream was born that day. Edwards found her hero.
Three years later, now 16 years, Edwards walked out in the middle for the first time for her country. If that moment was special, imagine opening the batting with her hero. Edwards had her first international runs-a push towards off-side for a two. To make it special, it came when Brittin was watching from the other end.
1996, her debut year, was a bit quiet one(where she played only one Test) compared to what followed. She took everyone by storm with her performance in 1997. She was 17 then. If you had seen her, you wouldn’t believe how good she was. Those 3/4 shirts were misleading too.
She made it to the squad that faced South Africa at home right before the 1997 World Cup. After getting out on 45 in the first match, she took on the bowlers to score her first ton, 102. She did jump in joy. Of course, that was something you’d expect from a 17YO.
A few months later, the team landed in India for the World Cup, and she continued piling up runs. She had 38 and 72 in her first two games. The stage was all set for the third game, against Ireland. Nobody knew what got into her, and she played as if she was in a different zone.
A day before her 18th birthday, with 19 fours, she got to 173* from 155 deliveries; held the world record for highest runs in ODIs for almost twenty minutes before Belinda Clark could steal it from her on the same day by scoring 229*. Of course, there were no disappointments, okay, maybe a little because that would have been her perfect gift for turning 18.
She began her 18th birthday with a duck against Australia, probably, the moment she would have realized that saying, ‘you are as good as your last game’.
After the 2000 World Cup, she picked up a serious cruciate ligament injury while playing hockey. The ligament was replaced with part of her hamstring. She had to 2001 season. It was a tough battle, but Edwards rebuilt herself by hitting the gym regularly.
Well, it didn’t stop her at all. She came back stronger, and a few years later, in 2005, she was named as the vice-captain for England. A year, the team would remember forever. England had their first ODI win since 1993 over Australia in the same year, and they also went on to win the Ashes for the first time in 42 years.
A lot did change since then. A year later, Edwards became the captain of the England team following the retirement of Claire Connor. What followed was three Ashes, and a World Cup double in 2009. She was not just leading them but WAS LEADING them. With the bat. At times, with the ball.
Oh, she was way too good when it comes to T20Is too. She became the first person to score 2000 runs, first person to score 2500 runs. Oh, all these with that knee injury. In 2007, she had another surgery on the same knee and made adjustments to her batting in such a way that she was on her front foot most of the times and made sure to put all her power on her hands rather than the knee.
In 2016, she had to take that tough decision of hanging her boots for good. Even when she retired, she was the best player on the team. It was certainly difficult, but it is what it is.
I was very young-probably five- when I first watched a match in a stadium, and it was a women’s cricket match. My dad and I had this day out, and he took me to a game. It was a match between New Zealand and England. I understood the game a bit but was too young to know what was happening. I instantly fell in love with Edwards because she was the only one who scored runs towards the side from where I was watching the match. I know its super crazy, but that’s how I fell in love with women’s cricket. After Sachin Tendulkar, Edwards was the player whom I followed like super crazy (of course, before Suzie Bates and White Ferns took over :P). Thank you, Edwards, for everything you have done to the game, for inspiring me and of course, millions of girls. You will always be my hero (along with, Suzie Bates. runs away).