<
>

Edwards' exit 'quite a big shock'

Charlotte Edwards is disappointed after getting out Getty Images

England's players have discussed, for the first time, the "turbulent" circumstances that saw Charlotte Edwards retire after being removed from the captaincy in 2016.

Mark Robinson, England women's head coach, made the decision to shake things up after the team's failure at the 2016 World T20, telling Edwards - still a world-class batsman and a pioneer of the game - she would not be part of his plans. Heather Knight was subsequently appointed as captain and went on to lead England to victory in the Women's World Cup final on Sunday.

Speaking before the final against India, Robinson said he believed he had made the right decision and that the team "had to go in a different direction", having come to the conclusion that his players didn't have enough belief.

"I just knew it was right," Robinson said. "When it's that simple in your mind - and it wasn't against Charlotte because Charlotte was still a very good player, but the team had to go in a different direction and we had to put things differently in place and it was something like 18 months before the next competition, this one. It was too long to wait and get through to before you start making changes."

During interviews to chart the team's progress from the defeat in the semi-finals of the World T20 last year to their success at Lord's, Jenny Gunn, the experienced allrounder who had been Edwards' team-mate for more than a decade, said the decision to move on had come as a "bit of a shock".

Fran Wilson, one of the younger players who has enjoyed increased opportunities over the last 12 months, expressed similar feelings but felt Robinson's call had been vindicated.

"It was quite a turbulent time because Charlotte's always been a part of the England team, as long as I can remember," Wilson said. "So when it first all happened it was quite a big shock and probably affected the girls a little bit. But, I think in the long-run, what Mark Robinson has done has been really good for the team. That's just testament to Robbo and the kind of faith he's shown in all of us."

The change of leadership had immediate benefits, as England's new opening pair of Tammy Beaumont and Lauren Winfield flourished during a run-soaked series win over Pakistan last year. Beaumont, in particular, has thrived under the guidance of Robinson, and was named Player of the Tournament after finishing as the top scorer in the Women's World Cup.

Beaumont won her first cap under Edwards, in 2009, and they opened together on several occasions. She gave credit to Edwards for laying the foundations for England's future success.

"It was a tough month or so," Beaumont said. "Charlotte has been probably quite a big influence on the first half of my career. She's also a good friend. It was hard to see her go through that but she's moved on into the commentary box with dignity. She can look back at her career knowing that she did a great job for England and left us in a good place."