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Clark's lap of honour, Hockley's finest hour

Some of the biggest names in women's cricket recount their standout experiences in past editions of the game's premier event

Sthalekar holds the 2013 World Cup: "To achieve what we did and walk away in the country of my birth was special"  •  ICC/Getty

Sthalekar holds the 2013 World Cup: "To achieve what we did and walk away in the country of my birth was special"  •  ICC/Getty

Lisa Sthalekar, former Australia allrounder
I fondly remember the 2013 campaign, not just for the win but for the emotional decision I took soon after our crowning glory. I had decided to quit the game before the World Cup. It was hard to keep all of it within, but I didn't want to distract the team from our ultimate goal. We had just won the World T20 in Sri Lanka six months earlier, so to be part of a successful group gave me much pride. To achieve what we did and walk away in the country of my birth was special.
What I also remember clearly of the campaign was the lack of buzz. When we landed in South Africa for the World Cup in 2005 - my first - all teams were housed at the High Performance Centre in Pretoria. There were flags, logos, banners and plenty of advertisement to suggest a big tournament was to start. In 2009 too, the ICC did a great job: there were plenty of posters and billboards around the main Sydney streets, all the teams were lined up for a function at the Sydney Harbour bridge. It was momentous. But the moment we landed in India for the 2013 edition, it seemed as if the message was simple: "Right, we'll now split you teams into groups. One set pack up and head to Cuttack. Others stay back in Mumbai. Good luck." The disconnect was glaring. Fortunately a lot of people had come in for the final and we had some kind of atmosphere. I think India's early exit didn't help matters.
Jhulan Goswami, India fast bowler and former captain
Cricket had caught my fancy in 1992. Cable television had just entered India, and everyone in our neighbourhood used to get together to watch the World Cup matches on TV. Watching it with my brothers, who were fans of Imran Khan and Kapil Dev, got me hooked to the game. I would try to copy their actions during our street cricket matches. But it's unbelievable, even today, how I didn't watch a game in a stadium for the next five years. I had received complimentary passes from Hero Honda for the 1997 final. It was my first time at an international game. There were 45,000 people at Eden Gardens! The noise was unbelievable. I remember my academy friends saying someone called "Fitzy" was the fastest bowler. I had no clue who she was. I had never seen her before, but watching her bowl that day inspired me. Later I found out her name was Cathryn Fitzpatrick. Something about her action fascinated me. I tried to meet her but couldn't. Years later when we played together and shared time together in the dressing room, she was surprised to know about how that was a turning point for me.
Debbie Hockley, former New Zealand captain
I played in five World Cups and have plenty of memories. We lost two successive finals - the 1997 one was particularly heartbreaking - but I can still imagine the buzz around Eden Gardens. But my favourite memory has to be our win in 2000 at home. To do it against Australia was extra special, especially given we lost our previous final to them. It was a nerve-racking experience. Defending five off the last over with one wicket in hand, a million thoughts went through my mind. I thought, "Oh dear, I can't take a third successive loss in a World Cup final." It was also to be my last game, so those final moments were emotional too. I knew I wouldn't return to the field. But here I was the captain, and couldn't let fear dictate me.
I had positioned myself at long-off with fans screaming into my ear. Fortunately we got a wicket off the first ball, I don't think I would have been able to hold my nerve for one more delivery beyond that. There was manic celebration around me, but all I remember was sitting right where I was fielding for a good two or three minutes with my head down, eyes closed and just soaking it all in. Someone had to push me to move from there and join the team celebration. Those last few moments in the dressing room were really special. We were hosted for a nice dinner reception that evening. The joy of winning a World Cup and celebrating it with your mates, many of whom have been an integral part of your journey, is an unbelievable feeling.
Belinda Clark, former Australia captain
Personally, it's hard to look beyond our 1997 campaign. To this day, I don't know how many people were there at Eden Gardens that day. I've heard different variations. One thing I can tell you, though, is my eardrums were buzzing; I hadn't played in front of such a crowd ever before. Our victory lap is still etched in my memory, because we were being cheered like a home team. For us to win there was extremely special. It was also in 1997 where I hit that record 229, against Denmark. To bat right through to get to a world record was great but it didn't quite sink in for a long time.
Mithali Raj, India captain
The 2005 campaign brings back so many memories. I was close to giving up the game. During the tournament I struggled to run because my knees had given up. They used to swell up like potatoes. I was spending plenty of time with the physio to get ready, but somehow it was very difficult. I phoned my mother to tell her I would quit, even before the tournament began. I also told her not to inform my father of this decision, but she dissuaded me. As it turned out, we finished runners-up. Just before the final, I remember receiving so many phone calls at the team hotel from back home. I had never given so many interviews up until then, but seeing the interest made me so happy that I thought to walk away would be stupid. The regret of not winning the final will always be there. We were overawed, but it was nevertheless a campaign to cherish in more ways than one.
Bismah Maroof, Pakistan batter
The tournament in 2009 was our first World Cup since our appearance in 1997. As a team we were excited, but we knew we weren't anywhere close to the top sides in terms of standards. We played just two tournaments after our qualification was confirmed in 2008. Our home series against West Indies would have given us a chance to see where we stood, but that was cancelled because of security reasons. Cricket-wise, it was always going to be too much for us to match up to the standards then. Our realistic goal was to compete.
In terms of our build-up, there wasn't much. Apart from our immediate families and friends, not many even knew what we were training for. The lack of coverage wasn't entirely surprising. People would wonder why we would train in the hot sun for months together, and were equally baffled to hear there was a World Cup for women. But the moment we landed in Australia, all of us were so amazed at the sporting culture there. The seeds of what we are today were sown then. The following year, we went on to win Asian Games Gold. That is when people back home knew there was a women's team too!

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo