Passed/Failed: An education in the life of Charlotte Edwards, captain of the England women's cricket team
'They treated me like one of the lads'
Thursday 28 May 2009
Charlotte ("Lottie") Edwards, 29, was at 16 the youngest woman to play cricket for England and in 2006 became captain of the team. It won the last two Ashes and she is now its leading run-scorer. She is also the captain of the Kent team and a coach in the Chance to Shine scheme, which encourages cricket in state schools. On 11 June, she will be playing at Taunton against India in the Women's World Twenty20.
The first reaction of the guys I played against was, "Oh, they've got a girl!" but after I had hit my first ball they realised I was good and let me get on with it. My love for the game came from my family: my dad and my uncle played. I was lucky to have my older brother; for years I bowled at him in the garden and if I bowled him out he would let me have a bat.
We lived in the Fens and I went to Somersham County Primary near Huntingdon. I loved it. I did the work but sport was my main love and I looked forward to playtime. My first introduction to "kwik cricket" was at the age of 10; this has plastic balls, no pads, and eight players – four have to be girls – and is loads of fun. There is a girls-only competition now. My school got into the regional finals and I was spotted then by the coach for the boys county "proper" cricket team.
From 11 to 14 I was at Ailwyn School and then went to Ramsey Abbey next door. (It is now one big school called Abbey College.) The teachers encouraged me to play cricket. When I was 14 or 15, my PE and form teacher Jo Brown (now Mrs Jones) nominated me for the Sunday Times Schoolgirl of the Year competition. This was for all sports across the board and I was the runner-up.
From an early age I had a lot of media attention and I was quite a popular girl at school. All through my time there I was captain of my year-group team and there was never another girl in the team. The boys treated me as one of the boys. The girls played rounders. I played rounders and tennis, too; if I hadn't played other sports, I think I would have got fed up. In the winter I played hockey and netball and, once I'd made the England under-19s at the age of 12, I would be in the nets.
At GCSEs I got an A in PE, Bs in English literature and French. I hadn't really enjoyed English until the last couple of years when I had Mrs Fairclough, the deputy head; and the French result was a miracle! I got Cs in the rest.
I didn't get general science: I was playing cricket on the day of the physics part of the exam. I went for a year to Cambridge Regional College for a leisure and tourism GNVQ. I didn't do the second year as I was offered a sales job by my sponsor, Hunts County Bats. Also, I had a big tour and would have missed three months of school.
When not playing cricket, I spend 25 hours a week coaching in the Chance to Shine scheme, mostly girls in my case. I'm as much of a cricket professional as a woman's going to get.
What would I have done if I hadn't had cricket as a career? I think I'd have been a teacher; I enjoy my coaching. Or I'd have gone into the police. I'd have been quite good. I'm a pretty nosy kind of person.
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