Sophie Ecclestone isn’t a name England Women could risk excluding nowadays. She is topping the ICC chart for WODI and Women’s T20 bowling rankings and leading the England pace attack in the ongoing Women’s World Cup. She hardly has had any forgettable bowling performance this world cup. The first match went wicketless for her but that was all. Amid the collapse of England in next three games, Sophie Ecclestone kept shining through her consistent performance.
Her biggest moment came during the second semi-final, against South Africa where even after winning four consecutive games, England were not the favourties. They were facing the most impressive side of the tournament, South Africa who had thrashed India just before the semi-final. England needed a special performance to beat side and Ecclestone took the charge. South Africa were chasing down 294 runs and despite losing the openers for cheap, the middle-order had the potent to win the match. Ecclestone ensured that the middle and lower-middle order could not get much to rebuild the innings, ran through the order, and claimed six wickets for 36 runs in eight overs-her career best. She is now all set to play the final against Australia against whom she would be eager to show her worth after a disappointing group match showcase. However, she surpassed Australia’s Jess Jonassen to become No.1 WODI bowler during the World Cup.
Whether the defending champions can beat the mighty Aussies in the final, that is a different discussion, but the legend of Sophie Ecclestone has surely inspired many. During the World Cup in 2017, when the hosts were lifting the Cup, the 18-year-old left-arm spinner was present at the Lord’s to rejoice the moment. However, she was not part of mere audience, she was invited to the Lord’s ahead of the final to be England’s net bowler. She was unavailable for selection for the tournament, eight months after her debut because of her exams. “Me and my boyfriend and [domestic teammate] Ellie Threlkeld went and watched the game together from the stands, which was pretty cool. I’m much happier now to be on the field playing than watching in the stands.”