Accusations of under-performing in big tournaments are now a distant memory for Heather Knight and her England team after they defeated India at Lord’s in a nail-biting contest to win the Women’s World Cup for the second time in three attempts.
“To do it on home soil at Lord’s in front of 26,000 people, and millions watching all over the world, it’s what dreams are made of,” said Knight.
The 26-year-old is, however, not keen to dwell on that success. “We don’t want to stop here, it’s important to keep pushing, and we want to drive the women’s game forward.”
Women’s cricket has already taken tremendous strides in recent times – in the space of just 10 years, it’s seen a rise of more than 650% in new women’s cricket clubs.
The ECB’s Director of England Women’s Cricket, Claire Connor, is excited for the future, saying: ‘There is a great area of potential, especially with the arrival of the All Stars Cricket programme. The future is bright, that’s for sure.”
So how does it get better than this for the female game?
“Of course, the World Cup win is going to be difficult to top, it was such a great day for women’s sport and you don’t want that to be a one-off,” said Knight at the launch of a new salad she has helped to create with health food company Squirrel.
“We recognise these sort of days don’t come around that often, and that’s why it’s vital that we keep the women’s game in the spotlight.”
That spotlight should continue to shine on the England team for some time yet as there is a small matter of an upcoming Ashes series in Australia, which Knight admits won’t be easy.
“It’s a tough place to go as you feel like the whole country is against you.”
“As everybody knows, the Australians love to beat the English, so that’s something you have to deal with, but we’re just concentrating on ourselves.”
Influential Australian captain Meg Lanning will miss the series through injury, but the England skipper believes the void left by her opposite number will be filled.
“Of course, any team in the world would miss Meg, but they have a great batting line-up as we saw in the World Cup, with many able replacements, so we’re expecting a tough battle.”
The Rochdale born right-hander has proven in her time in charge that she is exactly the person you want to lead you into such a battle.
She handled the fall-out from predecessor Charlotte Edwards losing the captaincy with professionalism and an inner determination to prove people wrong – all characteristics of this current England team.
‘We’ve got a lot of younger players and lots of potential, so we want to keep dominating for as long as possible’ – Heather Knight
So what of the future?
Long-term ambitions in sport often fall foul of fluctuating form and fortune, but Knight has no qualms in discussing hers.
“I want to continue as captain and see how far we can go. We’ve got a lot of younger players and lots of potential, so we want to keep dominating for as long as possible.”
One of those younger players is 18-year-old, Sophie Ecclestone. The Lancastrian missed last winter’s tour of Sri Lanka due to school commitments, but Knight believes she’s a star in the making.
“Sophie has a great future ahead of her with plenty of potential, and we’re looking forward to having her in Australia.”
England have recently overtaken Australia as the world’s number one-ranked women’s side, which will add some extra spice heading into that first ODI at Brisbane in late October.
Heather Knight was speaking at the launch of the ‘Green Knight’ salad, part of the ‘Best In Field’ series of dishes from London-based healthy eating outlet Squirrel. Images courtesy of KK Communications. You can follow Heather on Twitter @Heatherknight55