Tanya's Take

A giant leap for womankind

This tournament has been a fine evangelical exercise for the women's game

Tanya Aldred
Tanya Aldred
Claire Taylor was Player of the Tournament, England v New Zealand, ICC Women's World Twenty20 final, Lord's, June 21, 2009

Taylor: spreading the gospel  •  Getty Images

It was Claire Taylor, of course. With those small, fearsome eyes watching, watching, and with a swish of the bat, the ball disappeared over mid-off for four, and England had won. The favourites had followed their seeding to the end. They are now the first team, male or female, to simultaneously hold both the Twenty20 World Cup and the 50-over World Cup.
Almost more importantly, this tournament has been a great evangelical exercise for England, and women's cricket in general. Whoever decided to play the later stages of the women's tournament at the same venue and on the same day as the men's games struck gold. A whole new audience, who might not have thought of going to watch women's cricket for its own sake, were exposed to it. And impressed by it. The ICC-ESPN STAR sports deal, to screen the semi-finals and final live, was also vital. And to listen to Wasim Akram and Ian Chappell commentating on the final and treat it with respect was a complete thrill for someone who remembers the England team playing in skirts not so long ago (what a ridiculous concept that seems) and being widely ridiculed for being unfit and hopeless.
I hope that for my five-year-old daughter and her friends, women playing sport to a high level is normal, and that watching it, in mixed company, is normal too. This tournament has taken a huge step to ensuring that is the reality.
Just as the England women were playing for a higher cause at Lord's, so were Pakistan. They were not so much Imran's cornered tigers of 1992, more neutered tigers, stripped of any cricket in their own land. They were out of practice and widely dismissed. There was no Waqar, no Wasim, no Imran, no Inzamam. The smiling, totally chilled-out Younis Khan was happy to play the libero role. Who would take the team by the scruff of the neck and drag it over the line? The hirsute one again. Shahid Afridi hit the ball with glorious certainty again when it mattered, and posed with even greater aplomb at the final moment to lead the celebrations for crowd, cameras and Karachi.
It has been a wonderful fortnight for cricket in England. To have the greatest players contesting a game that remained fairly balanced between bat and ball, before adoring crowds, has been the most wonderful thing. And without a game washed out too.
It is a good thing that the Ashes follow, as any other series might risk being an anti-climax. Even if it is between two of the also-rans of this tournament.
A final word of admiration for Kumaar Sangakkara, one of the most impressive men ever to pull on a captain's jersey, who has carried his team with great dignity since the terrorist attacks in Lahore. He played an excellent innings and spoke with charm and a sense of proportion at the end of the game. He and his wife are expecting twins at the end of the month - may they enjoy every moment of them.

Tanya Aldred lives in Manchester. She writes occasionally for the Guardian