Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
When it started on Wednesday afternoon, the final Super Six match of the Women's World Cup looked set to decide which of England or New Zealand, the 2009 finalists, would face Australia in Sunday's final. The third contenders, West Indies, had been bowled out for 164 in a morning start and surely Australia would chase that down. Which is why Charlotte Edwards, in the midst of providing her side a solid base, didn't believe a New Zealand fielder who told her that Australia had in fact fallen short.
It was only when her partner Sarah Taylor walked up to Edwards and broke the news that the England captain realise that her side's tournament was all but over. For those watching the match, the excitement had drained as soon as online updates showed Australia had been bowled out for 156. But Edwards had to swallow her disappointment and get on with the game in the middle. She went on to score a vital half-century.
"I looked at the big screen to see the result," Edwards said. "I didn't actually take in what the information was telling me. I assumed Australia had won the game because when I went out to bat they were going pretty well. [I was] pretty heartbroken really. For three overs after that I didn't know what was going on. It was disappointing for both teams. It was kind of an anti-climax. I'm very proud of how both teams stuck to it out there."
New Zealand captain, Suzie Bates, also spoke of how the sides had played a competitive game but said intensity levels weren't the same after the dispiriting news came in. Bates felt it would have been better to have not known the result of the other match.
It was a particularly shattering end for the holders England, who went out of the tournament without having had a single really poor game. Their defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia were by one wicket - off the last ball - and two runs. Edwards, however, refused to offer any excuses and said England had paid for their "slow start" to the tournament, beginning with the shock loss to Sri Lanka.
"We had come here to win this tournament and we haven't. We haven't even got to the final," Edwards said. "That is disappointing for us as a group of players. We were very inconsistent in the first phase of the tournament and are probably now playing our best cricket, which is too late. We prepared well. We have no excuses. We didn't play well. We didn't hold our catches against Sri Lanka."
Edwards said there would be time for reflection on England's performance in this tournament, and also over a "disappointing" previous 18 months, after they return home but ruled out any immediate decision over her own future. The 33-year-old Edwards, who is now in the 17th year of her international career, said she hadn't even thought about retirement.
"That is a long way off. I am not going to make any rash decisions," she said. "I am going to enjoy my cricket. I am loving my time with this group. We have got a big summer. There is a World Twenty20 next year. I can't say if I am going to be there in four years' time [at the next World Cup] but the only thing that will keep me going is that it might be in England. But four years is a long time."