England v New Zealand, women's World Cup final, Sydney

Shaw proves a point

Jenny Roesler in Sydney

March 22, 2009

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Nicki Shaw appeals for a wicket, England v New Zealand, women's World Cup final, Sydney, March 22, 2009
Nicki Shaw: "I started the day crying, I finished it crying, but we won a World Cup in between" © Getty Images
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England's vice-captain Nicki Shaw was preparing herself to miss out on the World Cup final when Jenny Gunn, who had been in superior form, admitted to a calf niggle. Shaw, who had been overlooked as England named the same side that had already beaten New Zealand, promptly adjusted her mindset and went out there "prove a point".

It wasn't just England to whom she gave a lesson, however, as she brought up career-best figures of 4 for 34 and then made 17 not out to lead her side home and on to the podium. A modest Shaw, named Player of the Match, put her bowling down to luck, while crediting the opening pace bowler Katherine Brunt for building up the pressure ahead of her own spell.

Immediately after the picking up the award, a tearful Shaw had said: "I started the day crying, I finished it crying, but we won a World Cup in between." She also paused to spare a thought for Gunn, the player she replaced. "It takes a big person to say they can't play in the World Cup final, so I'm really thankful to her."

Her captain Charlotte Edwards later admitted the initial decision to omit Shaw had been the hardest of her career to date, but when the hand of fate intervened, Shaw grasped the opportunity. And how. "What do we know about selection?" Edwards joked.

There was another fairytale story for Claire Taylor. The world's No. 1 batsman was, perhaps unsurprisingly, named Player of the Tournament for her 324 runs, which included a century against Sri Lanka. But it was the pinnacle of a dream for Taylor, who had been adjusting her entire life for the last eight years in order to achieve the correct balance to allow herself to play so freely.

After losing the 2000 World Cup semi-final, Taylor decided to focus more on cricket than work. But having done so, when she then lost the 2005 semi-final, she decided to increase her work and took up the violin once more. In that time her average has climbed and climbed and climbed again.

Today's World Cup final victory was no fluke. While Taylor may have not shown her true best, making only 21, her tournament form helped bring England to the final. Having at last struck the balance - third time lucky - she acknowledged that she has been enjoying her cricket more than ever. It has certainly showed.

"I'm just really pleased that it's all worked together," she said, "and that's it all worked so well. I've been so much happier over the last two or three years, really, both in terms of my life and the cricket that I've been playing. To come into the tournament with a bit of pressure on me, to really perform I'm just really thrilled."

Jenny Roesler is a former assistant editor at Cricinfo

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