England's last World Cup winners quits February 12, 2008

Smit's quitting heralds end of an era


Jane Smit has called it quits at 35 © Will Luke
 

Jane Smit's sudden retirement from international cricket means England now no longer have any World Cup winners in their side. She lifted the trophy in 1993, one highlight of a 16-year career that includes regaining the Ashes in 2005. Her shock decision - though she was 35, before the tour she had talked of how much work she had been putting in - brings the end of an another era even closer.

The captain Charlotte Edwards is now the only remaining player to have played for England in a skirt, in a time before the ECB took over the running of the game. Smit is also one of the few women players to have played a hundred or more ODIs, ending with 109 to her name.

She has seen the changes in women's cricket from the time when she had to pay towards tours and blazers but leaves the game in good shape, on the brink of breaking through if the proposed World Twenty20 tie-up with the men goes to plan.

She was there when the game was truly amateur but has always brought a professional determination to her cricket. Even at club level, I can testify she was not shy of having a cheeky word from behind the stumps for Thrumpton - never sledging though, just encouragement for her team. England will miss her verbal positivity and sharp keeping skills.

Her replacement Sarah Taylor will have big gloves to fill, but has already been taking the stumps in a few matches. It's to be hoped this does not distract her from her batting game. Smit was also a useful batsman, slipping down the order in recent years to accommodate England's new breed of young allrounders.

At one time she held a share of the ODI record for England's fourth and fifth wicket partnerships respectively scoring an unbeaten 131 with Charlotte Edwards in Pune, 1997 and 188 not out with Claire Taylor in New Zealand.

Her constant, tidy presence and automatic inking onto the teamsheet ironically made her inconspicuous but no less vital to the team. She will now continue to work in finance for Derby University, a job she had been undertaking on a part-time basis five days a week.

Jenny Thompson is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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