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Alan Gardner in Mirpur
April 5, 2014
The better half of England cricket will be on show in Dhaka on Sunday, contesting their seventh final in global limited-overs tournaments. Charlotte Edwards is too diplomatic, too downright decent to acknowledge that the men have left rather a weight of responsibility on her team over recent months but the women are quite used to getting the job done.
The media following and the prize money may be smaller for the Women's World T20 but the trophy, and the glory, are just as important. Lifting both the World Cup and the World T20 in her time as England captain - something none of her male equivalents can lay claim to - has not diminished Edwards' desire for further success. Increasingly, the women's team is demanding recognition in their field; the players only care about recognition on the field.
So while the ECB looks to source a new head coach of the men's team, after the debacle Down Under, Paul Shaw will prepare the women for a major final to follow back-to-back Ashes successes in his first year in the job. The T20 men are still recovering from a Dutch dynamiting while Edwards and her players are one match away from a second world title in the format.
"We're desperate to win and restore some pride in English cricket, without a doubt," Edwards said. "It's for us as a group of 15 players to go out and win a trophy. I'm sure the accolades will come with that."
Sunday's decider will feature the twin peaks of the women's game, who contested the World T20 final in similar conditions two years ago in Sri Lanka. Australia won by four runs in Colombo to retain their title but England have prospered over two Ashes series in the last year, twice winning on points. Australia, in turn, can call upon the fact they won more games in the most recent series, including the T20s.
"Obviously we want to go one better than we did in Sri Lanka," Edwards said. "We're not focusing too much on revenge. It's about us putting in a really big performance to win this trophy, which would mean a lot to us as a group of players. We're two evenly matched teams, it's about who's going to deal with the bigger occasion."
England versus Australia is a match-up already freighted with history and the teams' intertwined schedule invites the question of whether familiarity has seasoned the contempt. Sledging might be dismissed as macho posturing but Edwards and her Australia counterpart, Meg Lanning, admitted that verbals were not something confined to the men's game.
"It's tough. It's the biggest rivalry we have in cricket," Edwards said. "The two teams have a huge amount of respect for one another. It's played in a good spirit, but it's hard. I'm sure there'll be some tomorrow. Two teams who are desperate to win in a big global event, and no doubt that won't change.
"Heather Knight has a lot to say for herself, and Sarah Taylor behind the stumps. As you'd expect, a wicketkeeper's got lots to say. We'll try and do our talking with the bat and ball, but I'm sure there'll be a lot of nerves flying, and hopefully some good banter as well. We know a lot about one another, strengths and weaknesses. We won't be focusing too much on what's being said. Hopefully that will do all the talking."
England began their World T20 by losing to West Indies but they seemed back to their nimble best in the way they eased past South Africa in the semi-final. An over-reliance on Edwards' runs at the top of the order could have been a potential weakness but Sarah Taylor looks increasingly assured back as an opener, hitting a fluent, unbeaten 44 against South Africa, while Heather Knight is inked in to bat at No. 3. The bowling, led by the destructive Anya Shrubsole, and fielding has been reassuringly high class.
"Every game, we've got better," Edwards said. "We know our roles pretty clearly now. It's about playing without any fear, enjoying the moment. These kinds of occasions don't come around very often. I'm certainly very excited about tomorrow, and the younger players are excited. They seem really relaxed about this trip."
Edwards, of course, has seen more of these occasions come around than most. Talk is of a new era in English cricket but, for the women's team, the old one is doing just fine.
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Alan Gardner
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