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The Conversation: 'Women's sport is on a real high now'

The 35-year-old England women's cricket captain talks about facing Australia in the Ashes this summer and how she celebrates sporting success

By Oscar Quine

Charlotte Edwards - the 35-year-old England women's cricket captain - talks about facing Australia in the Ashes this summer and how she celebrates sporting success.

Q: I know very little about cricket, so go easy on me. When did you first pick up a cricket bat?

A: When I was about three or four, in the back garden with my brothers. My dad played cricket and my uncle played cricket, so it was very much in the blood. I've been dragged along to the local cricket club since I was born.

Q: And you captained your boys' local county team at the age of 11. Did the gender difference matter?

A: I thought of it as completely normal and the lads were brilliant. I'd grown up playing with them, so I never thought it was odd. It was probably more the parents - the opposing teams' parents - who had the issue. It wasn't easy at times. But it's great that that's changed now; people are much more open to girls and boys playing together. I'm sure I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't played boys' cricket.

Q: So you don't look forward to a time when we'll have mixed cricket?

A: There's a lot of mixed cricket played already. One of our opening bowlers, Kate Cross, is the first woman to play in the Lancashire League and is doing brilliantly. In terms of at the highest level, we're a long way off, but you can never say never.

Q: Has the game changed a great deal since you started?

A: Massively. Back in 1996, when I made my debut, I played in a skirt, which presented its own challenges. Now it's fully professional and we're given opportunities to play all around the world.

Q: What do you do when you're not playing cricket?

A: At the moment, there's not much downtime. But if I do get any, I like to be at home because I don't get to spend much time there. I live in Berkshire. I enjoy going cycling and spending time with my little niece.

Q: The last two Ashes series have been played across three different formats - Test matches, one-day matches, and Twenty20 matches. Do you prefer it?

A: Absolutely. Our Ashes series previous to that was just one Test match. It became quite stale and was not particularly enjoyable to play in at times. While the last two Ashes series have certainly been the best I've played in. It's really captured the imagination of people watching. It's something that the men's side of the game are certainly looking at.

Q: And you won them both. How did you celebrate?

A: Generally, we just go out for a few drinks. I think it's important to celebrate success. We work really hard in preparation for these tournaments and we're a close-knit group.

Q: With less money and exposure, is the issue of players' egos less of a problem in women's sport?

A: In women's sport, you generally have to be good role models and put the sport first instead of yourself and I think that's something the women's cricket team does well. Women's sport is now on a real high - especially after the London Olympics. I don't think that the public see any difference between a man and a woman playing sport now.

Q: You've said before that men's and women's cricket differ a lot. How so?

A: In the men's game, the quick bowling is probably 15 miles an hour faster and the guys hit the ball further. I know you don't know much about cricket, but the men's game is a back-foot game, and the women's game is more often played on the front foot.

Q: Over my head. And what's your favourite sport to watch on TV?

A: Oh dear. I love watching the marathon. I've got my eye on running it in London in a couple of years' time.

And there's more

Charlotte Marie Edwards (35) is the captain of the England women’s cricket team. Making her debut at the age of 16, she was England’s youngest-ever player. She is the only female cricketer to score 2,000 runs in Twenty20 internationals and has been awarded a CBE for services to cricket. England face Australia in the Women’s Ashes this summer.

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