“It’s funny, I never thought the result was in doubt,” says Tammy Beaumont. “At the time I thought we were cruising. I didn’t think there was any chance we were going to lose. It was only a few weeks later when I was watching the highlights that I realised just how close it was.”
Monday marks the first anniversary of a World Cup final win that shredded the nerves and turned the lives of those who played in it upside down. England’s women beat India by nine runs to seal a fourth World Cup crown in front of a packed Lord’s crowd and a sizeable television audience. Less than a year later, Anya Shrubsole was making history on the front of the Wisden Cricket Almanack and three of the side were among the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year.
Beaumont and her colleagues hadn’t simply handed women’s cricket a once-in-a-generation boost, they had turned the sport in this country on its head.
Speaking to The Independent on the eve of the 2018 Kia Super League season, Beaumont - whose Southern Vipers’ side began their campaign against the Surrey Stars at Guildford on Sunday afternoon – acknowledges the enormity of that World Cup success.
She also believes that it’s down to that World Cup winning side to ensure that the legacy of that success endures well into the future.
“The biggest thing now is that kids coming to games actually recognise us – I got recognised on the tube a couple of weeks after the final, which had never happened before,” she says. “But just because we’ve won the World Cup doesn’t mean we’ve made it – we need to keep being humble, keep putting in performances. We need to ensure that we not only keep being successful for England but also keep growing the women’s game in this country.
“I’ve had people like Rob Key and Nasser Hussain tell me that their daughters look up to myself or another member of the England team. We’re their cricketing idols, their cricket heroes – they’re not bothered by how good their dad was. It’s quite nice to hear that.
“When I grew up my hero probably was Rob Key at Kent or Geraint Jones as a wicketkeeper or Graham Thorpe. It’s so important that we’re as accessible as possible to the young girls coming through and that we don’t lose sight of just how important that is.
“We’re not too big for the game, we’re staying grounded and making sure that the girls can’t just see us play but can also come up to us and get an autograph and have a chat.”
It’s an approach that served Gareth Southgate’s England well at the World Cup and one that has ensured that the popularity of the women’s game continues to increase up and down the country.
The manner of England’s win over India 12 months ago also served to illustrate the kind of battling qualities that Heather Knight’s side are now synonymous with. But while most of the country watched the denouement of that final with sweaty palms, Beaumont couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.
“We won a World Cup final by nine runs,” she says. “That’s pretty much as narrow a win as you can get but I just didn’t understand how anyone could not believe we were going to win it. Even when they needed something like 27 off 40 balls, in my head there was always only one winner.
“That day was unbelievable – the more I think about it, the more I get rose-tinted glasses and think about just how perfect it was. It’s something that will stick with me forever. Playing in front of a packed house at Lord’s – if you had said to me that that would have happened 10 years ago I would have laughed at you. Sharing it with our support staff, our family and our friends is another reason why it will always be a career highlight.”
A Super League title would sit very nicely in the 27-year-old’s trophy cabinet and cap off an extraordinary year for an opener who has already scored three hundreds for England this summer, including a phenomenal 47-ball century against South Africa in a Twenty20 international at Taunton back in June.
New Zealander Suzie Bates, will be just one of a number of overseas players glad that they’re playing in the same side as Beaumont rather than being on the receiving end of her flashing blade. And razor-sharp tongue.
“It’s quite a difficult one when you’re playing international cricket but since the Super League and the Big Bash has come along, you do get to know each other a little bit more off the pitch,” she says. “On international duty you keep yourself to yourself. There’s a few people who used to think I was not a very nice person because of playing hard on the pitch. When they’ve spent time with me they’ve actually realised I’m a good human!
“Suzie Bates said to me at the end of the last game at Leicester that she’s really looking forward to be on the same team as me – instead of me being the little annoying one in the field making a lot of noise. She’s pleased that I’ll be doing it on her side, rather than the other way round.”
A year on from an unforgettable afternoon at Lord’s, England’s women still have plenty to shout about.