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England’s World Cup triumph can be a “springboard” for women’s cricket around the world, according to captain Heather Knight.
The hosts beat India by nine runs at Lord’s in front of a sell-out 26,500 crowd, the biggest in Women’s World Cup history.
More than 50 million people worldwide watched the group stages.
“What a tournament it has been – the support, the cricket and everything about it,” said Knight.
Anya Shrubsole took 6-46 – the best figures in a World Cup final – as India collapsed from 191-3 to 219 all out in pursuit of England’s 228-7.
“Women’s cricket has gone through the roof since 2009,” she told BBC Sport.
“This is a watershed moment, to be playing at Lord’s in front of a sell-out crowd in a World Cup final.
“You just don’t think those things are going to happen. It’s unbelievable.”
England coach Mark Robinson said: “It has captured the imagination of everybody as the tournament has gone on.
“Hopefully, the women’s game will go from strength to strength. It is getting the recognition, getting its proper place. People take it seriously and give it respect.”
‘Anya Shrubsole – what a hero’
The superb Shrubsole took five wickets in 19 balls to hasten India’s collapse, sealing England’s fourth World Cup title by bowling number 11 Rajeshwari Gayakwad with eight balls to spare.
“Anya Shrubsole, what a hero. I thought about taking her off and I’m really glad I kept her on,” said Knight.
“It’s been an extraordinary game. To win with some of my best mates, I’m absolutely delighted.”
India needed only 38 runs from 43 balls before Shrubsole dismissed Punam Raut for 86 to spark a collapse of seven wickets for 28 runs.
“One of the great things about this team is we never give up,” said Shrubsole. “It is a fitting final of what was a brilliant World Cup.
“There was a huge amount of pressure. It’s without doubt the most significant spell I’ve ever bowled.”
‘I’ve lost my voice’
Shrubsole and team-mate Tammy Beaumont said they had never experienced such a passionate crowd.
“I’ve never played in a game where you can’t hear the person who’s 15 metres away from you,” said Shrubsole.
“Trying to get Heather’s attention, I was having to scream at her because the crowd made that much noise – pretty much from start to end.”
Beaumont, who was named player of the tournament after topping the batting charts with 410 runs, said: “I have lost my voice. I was trying to scream over the crowd.
“It almost felt like half England on one side and India on the other. I don’t think that atmosphere will be replicated in a number of years.”
Knight added: “At times I had to pinch myself and concentrate on the game.
“The noise when we got the last wicket was a really special moment. It was incredible to be part of.”
India pay price for lower-order ‘panic’
India skipper Mithali Raj said her side “panicked” as they lost seven wickets for 28 runs in the space of seven overs to miss out on a first major trophy.
“There was a time when the match was in the balance. It wasn’t easy for England but credit to them – they kept their nerve,” she said.
“I would like to tell the girls I am very proud of them. They didn’t make any match look easy for the opposition.”
Wicketkeeper Sarah Taylor was one of five England players – along with Knight, Shrubsole, Jenny Gunn and Laura Marsh – who were part of England’s World Cup-winning squad in 2009.
She returned to the team at this World Cup after taking a break from the game last year to deal with anxiety problems.
“It has been a rollercoaster. To be part of this team is incredible,” Taylor said.
“It was a case of getting healthy. It was pot luck to be back for this World Cup. This is amazing.”
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