Things can look a little hazy, a little indistinct the morning after victory in a World Cup final. There were a few yawns and several bleary smiles as England's women reassembled for their photo with the trophy. The celebrations, according to allrounder Nat Sciver, were: "Appropriate. For winning a World Cup." At least no one was forced to hide behind a pair of shades.

What was absolutely clear was the transformative power this tournament has had on the women's game over the last few weeks. Sold-out games - not just for the final at Lord's, but in the group stage too - tight finishes and heroic individual contributions made for an intoxicating blend. Such brushstrokes paint a vibrant picture of how the sport can evolve.

When Anya Shrubsole, England's match-winner on Sunday, came to the ground to watch her father play 16 years ago, her World Cup dream was a distant one. Now, as Player of the Tournament Tammy Beaumont puts it, a girl in the crowd could realistically envision a pathway to a career as a professional cricketer.

"Hopefully some young girl that's watched yesterday will be walking out at Lord's in 10-15 years' time to play in a World Cup again," Beaumont said. "Hopefully it will filter down to increasing the Super League, getting more than just the 18 of us on contracts, if we can in ten years' time get it to being a domestic level where everyone is more professional, I think it will raise the game in an even bigger way."

Full professionalism so far extends only to England's centrally contracted players, although tournaments such as the ECB's Kia Super League and the Women's Big Bash League in Australia offer earning opportunities around the globe. A women's IPL looks an increasingly likely prospect after India's run to the World Cup final - in which they played a full part in a genuine thriller - captured the imagination in cricket's most lucrative market.

The financial rewards are secondary, however, to the capacity for a "landmark moment for women's cricket in England" to inspire even greater participation among young girls.

"I think that's probably in the back of our minds somewhere," Beaumont said. "The thing with our group at the moment, none of us started playing cricket as a career. We did it because we loved the game and I think you see that on the pitch, we still love the game and being able to do it for a job is a dream come true. This is probably going to be a bit of a landmark moment for women's cricket in England but that's kind of a by-product and it's not something that any of us are aiming for."

Sciver, whose two hundreds and seven wickets made her the tournament's star allrounder, was of a similar opinion: "That was almost one of the goals of the tournament and I think it exceeded those expectations. Going on the lap of honour and seeing how many kids stayed around, with their mothers telling us how we had inspired their children, that was brilliant to see how many young kids, girls and boys, all came along. It is brilliant opportunity in general I think for cricket to grow."

Their success may refresh parts of the game that other cricketers can't reach - Paul Collingwood, a World T20-winning former England captain, tweeted: "I've been trying for years and today finally my daughters want to play cricket" - but it will not go to the head of Shrubsole. Her picture adorned the front and back pages of newspapers, she received a tweet from Jeremy Corbyn and congratulations from her football team, Portsmouth FC, but her immediate plans include a cup of tea and a sit down.

"I probably will go home and put the kettle on as normal," she said. "I pride myself on not getting too up in situations and trying not to get too down in situations. I think it's hard not to get too high up at the minute, but I'll go home and spend some time with my family. In my head, life will return to normal pretty quickly; whether that actually happens or not I don't know. But I'll definitely have a quiet few days with the family."

Shrubsole has a degree in psychology from Loughborough University and plans to continue with her studies because "there's going to be a life after cricket". Perhaps it was inevitable that she would be the one to get inside the opposition's heads during a tight run chase.

"We were nowhere in that game and didn't really have a right to win, but we stuck in there and you never know what can happen under the pressure of a World Cup final."

Her new-ball partner, Katherine Brunt, put it in terms slightly less appropriate to academia when reflecting on the pressure facing each new India batsmen as England and Shrubsole steadily chipped away: "There's a girl coming in here, she's on nought, she's at Lord's, and it's a World Cup final. And she'll be absolutely shitting herself."

That is the clarity of thought England were able to display in the biggest women's game ever played. Their team spirit has shone through during a campaign that saw them overcome whatever obstacles fell in their path - as well as shedding the baggage of recent history - and the opportunities presented, for women's cricket as a whole, are no longer illusory. They are as almost as tangible as a headache the morning after.

"It's just amazing for the women's game," Shrubsole said. "More than anything, personally, to have the final out here in front of the crowd was a really fitting showpiece to what has been an amazing tournament, and just shows how far the game has gone.

"One of the real strengths of this tournament and the women's game the last few years is there's been so many teams all at a similar level. You had six teams who'd have thought they could have won, and that's what the game needs: everyone being competitive. It's no good having one or two teams who dominate. If the game keeps progressing around the world, and boards keep backing their players and making the game as professional as possible, everyone's seen how good this tournament's been, it can only really get better from here."

Alan Gardner is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick