AN England team without Sophie Ecclestone is hard to imagine, but five years ago when the hosts lifted the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup trophy, the spinning star watched from the stands.
The Chester youngster, then 18, had made the trip to Lord’s to play net bowler for England as she prepared for the 2017 final, unavailable for Cup selection of the world as she finished her exams.
Now Ecclestone leads the bowling attack as England eye a semi-final against South Africa at the 2022 ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup and she tops almost every table you can find her in. to place.
“I actually only went to the final, I went to practice the day before at Lord’s because they needed a few bowlers at the net,” said the left-arm spinner.
“Me and my boyfriend and [Thunder teammate] Ellie Threlkeld went to watch the game together from the stands, which was pretty cool.
“I’m much happier now being on the pitch playing than watching in the stands.”
Ecclestone currently top the wicket charts at the World Cup, having won 14 wickets in seven group games.
She is three wickets ahead of her closest challengers, South African pair Ayabonga Khaka and Shabnim Ismail.
The couture duo will face Ecclestone on Thursday as South Africa take on England in the second semi-final, with Australia and West Indies meeting the day before.
And while Ecclestone says her goal has always been to be the tournament’s leading wicket-taker, she has reached another personal milestone sooner than she expected.
During the early stages of the World Cup, Ecclestone rose to the top of the MRF Tires ICC women’s rankings for ODI bowlers, overtaking Australian Jess Jonassen.
She is now the number one bowler in the ODIs and T20s, and with both achievements stitched together in her early twenties, Ecclestone’s attention has now turned to building a legacy.
She said: “It’s amazing, it’s an honor for me and my family to be number one. I think it was a big milestone for me to reach at some point in my career and the reach so early, I’m pretty proud of it.
“With what’s going on in this World Cup, I think I played well, it’s good to know that now I’m number one in both formats.
“For me, I want to be one of the best spinners who’s ever played for England. I want people to look back 30/40 years from now and say, ‘Do you remember Sophie Ecclestone who played there? so long ago.’
“I want people to remember my name and be just one for the history books.”
To understand where Ecclestone goes, you have to know where she comes from, that is to say playing in the garden with her brother James.
Ecclestone, born in Cheshire, showed a talent for football and cricket from an early age, but with England calling up she chose wickets over clean sheets, making her debut at the ODI and at T20 in 2016.
And it’s her family that Ecclestone often thinks of when she returns to her brand, ready to launch another spellbinding delivery.
“My brother James taught me all the sports I knew, he taught me football and cricket – they were the main ones we played away on our road all the time,” Ecclestone explained.
“In the back garden, it was World War III, so he would take me out or I would hit the ball over the fence, but it would all be his fault one way or another.
“I don’t really know what’s going through my mind when I’m bowling. Maybe I think of people watching at home or my mum and dad are going to watch now and I just think of them and play cricket for my country.
“It’s quite an honor to do this with the girls on the pitch. I take it all, it’s really surreal. I have one of the best jobs in the world.
“I just focus, I want to hit the stumps, to be honest that’s all I think about, hit the stumps and you can’t go too far wrong.”
It’s fair to say that Ecclestone hasn’t gotten too far wrong in a career that has already seen so much but is just beginning.
By Milly McEvoy, Sportsbeat
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