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An unfortunate end to an illustrious career

Last updated on 14 Apr 2022 | 11:39 AM
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An unfortunate end to an illustrious career

The catalyst behind England's World Cup title at Lords bids adieu to the sport after 14 years

23rd July 2017: The third ball of the penultimate over, Poonam Yadav, attempts to play a lofted drive over the mid-off fielder but fails to get any timing on the ball. Dear, oh dear, England's most reliable fielder, Jenny Gunn, has dropped a sitter. 

With only a wicket to get and nine runs required, the crowd at Lord's wondered if that drop would be costly in the context of the game. Has she dropped the World Cup, just like Herschelle Gibbs, or can Anya Shrubsole weave her magic for one last time in the match.  

And, before we get into her heroics on the day that mattered the most, let us go a couple of hours back to how the final panned out. 

With the iconic event showcasing the batting prowess of the women's teams with plenty of high-scoring thrillers, England managed to score 228 runs in the first innings of the summit clash at the Home of Cricket.

While Shrubsole dented the Women in Blue with the early scalp of Smriti Mandhana, India were still cruising at 191 for the loss of three wickets courtesy of Punam Raut's half-century.

However, the right-arm pacer from Somerset had other ideas as she caused a middle-order collapse to get the equation down to nine runs and two wickets in hand.

Charging in for the penultimate over, she scalped the massive wicket of Deepti Sharma to etch her name on the Honour Boards of Lords to pick up her five-wicket haul and guide the home team closer to the title.

Amidst all the pressure and the drama surrounding the dropped catch, Shurbsole was an epitome of calmness while walking back to her run-up. The following delivery, she executed a well-directed yorker to send the England fans in ecstasy and etch a glorious chapter in the history books. 

"There have been many ups and downs along the way, but it was all worth it to be able to lift the ICC Women's World Cup at Lord's in 2017," she said while announcing her retirement.

A young 10-year old dreamt of playing in the World Cup final for England, and a decade later, she has single-handedly won it for her nation in front of a capacity crowd at the Home of Cricket.

At the tender age of 12-year old first entered the Somerset side in age-group cricket and made a mark for herself with her immense passion and immaculate consistency. 

After years of gruelling sessions, she graduated from under-age teams to don the national colours for the first time in 2008 against South Africa in Shenley. 

In a career filled with ebbs and flows, Shrubsole forged a lethal opening combination with Katherine Brunt to dismantle the opposition batting units for over a decade. 

While the fortunes of the England side relied heavily on the performance of the duo, Shrubsole and England endured a dismal outing in the first three games of the 2022 World Cup in the land of the Kiwis, resulting in the then defending champions losing three games on the trot.

With the chances of the side hanging by a thread, it boiled down to the nine runs needed with one wicket to get over the line. Walking in at number 11, it was time for the 30-year old to absorb the pressure and keep the hopes alive of millions of England fans. 

Along with Charlie Dean, she steadied the innings and powered the side through with a classy cover drive to crush the White Ferns' chances of progressing in the tournament. 

While she was at the forefront of England's revival in the mega event, they rekindled their rivalry against arch-rivals Australia in their bid for the ultimate prize.
And as she crossed the boundary cushions for the national anthems, tears rolled down for England's stalwart, just showcasing the gravity of the occasion and how much this means to her.

Despite being England's best bowler in the first innings, she was up against a very special innings by Alyssa Healy as Australia posted a mammoth 356 runs. 

With the pressure of the run chase in the summit clash, England crumbled around Natalie Sciver's unbeaten 148, with Shrubsole being the last player to be dismissed. 

For over a decade, she has been on the right side of the wins; however, in her last appearance for the England side, she ended on the other side of the defeat. 

Well, not all stories have a fairy-tale ending, and while she has drawn curtains to her glittering career, England and the team management would hope for her to contribute beyond to the team in ways beyond the 22 yards. 

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