The rumour mill was in full swing last night after it was announced that Jane Smit, England's most experienced player, had suddenly quit the tour of Australia and New Zealand. Her departure came four days after the equally unexpected news that Mark Dobson, the coach, had returned home for unexplained personal reasons.
What is more surprising is that Smit was already back in the UK by the time the ECB broke the news, and the media were left with little to go on. In a brief statement on the ECB website, she said: "I feel the time is now right to retire from the England team. I need to consider my career beyond cricket. I wish the current team much success in the future."
Former England captain and team manager Clare Connor denied rumours that the two departures were related. "Mark Dobson had to return for personal reasons that won't be discussed. Jane Smit retired yesterday ... they have no connection. To my knowledge, they are not romantically linked." The last comment, if aimed at quelling rumours, only served to do the opposite.
The only mention that the last survivor from England's 1993 World Cup and a veteran of 109 ODIs had retired came in a terse five one-sentence paragraph media release buried in the ECB website. It was hardly a fitting farewell for one of the longest serving ambassadors for women's cricket.