Former England women’s cricket captain Charlotte Edwards today called on schools to help this summer’s World Cup on home soil create a lasting legacy for the sport.
She said cricket should replace rounders during PE in summer to help make it one of the most popular female participation sports nationwide.
England are one of the favourites in the tournament, which starts on June 24. The final is at Lord’s on July 23.
Edwards, who captained the national side to World Cup victory in 2009 in Australia, said she hoped that the exposure the tournament would give the game would inspire thousands more young girls to take it up.
But the 37-year-old, who retired from international cricket last year, said that while there were “lots of great initiatives” in schools, the sport fell behind rounders in games classes. “This kind of event can really change the landscape of women’s cricket in this country,” she said. “I was a young girl in 1993 when the women’s team won the World Cup and that inspired me to go out and play.
“I was probably one of not many girls watching the World Cup final. But now women’s sport has really taken off and I think this kind of event can hopefully leave a real legacy. There are a lot of initiatives to grow participation [but] it’s always hard. The next big step for us is to get all the private schools and state schools playing cricket as a summer sport for girls. A tournament like this might change people’s thoughts on cricket and get it played much more.”
The Kent county captain hopes the tournament could be “as big as London 2012” for boosting female participation in sport. She said cricket had role models to equal cyclist Laura Kenny and heptathlete Jessica Ennis-Hill.
Edwards, one of women’s cricket’s most decorated players, said: “ They [Kenny and Ennis-Hill] are hugely successful in their sports, which is why they inspire, and it is up to our female cricketers to do the same. There are some brilliant role models within the team, and it’s about them achieving success on the biggest stage.”
She said that women’s cricket being seen as a career, with players paid to represent England, sent “a really powerful message” to potential stars.
At Lord’s today Edwards was named as an ambassador for the World Cup. She was at a training day for tournament volunteers for the final, for which 12,000 tickets have been sold.
The tournament will see 27 matches played in 21 days at county grounds in Bristol, Derby, Leicester and Taunton, before the Lord’s final.