Charlotte Edwards, the England captain, has become the second woman to be named as one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year. The 34-year-old, who masterminded two Ashes victories across all three formats of the game during the last year, follows in the footsteps of former team-mate Claire Taylor in receiving the coveted accolade.
The award is bestowed on players who make the greatest impact during the English season. The other recipients were the England tiro Joe Root, Australia's paceman Ryan Harris and opener Chris Rogers, and India batsman Shikhar Dhawan, who helped his side win the Champions Trophy at Edgbaston in June.
Edwards expressed her pride at receiving the honour, saying: "These kind of awards, I would not have dreamt of winning when I was starting my career when I was 16. To think of all the players that have come before me who have won these awards, it makes me feel very proud."
Considering that women were not even allowed in the pavilion at Lord's when Edwards made her debut in 1996 unless they were cleaners, players or the Queen, it is no surprise she would not have anticipated entering the pantheon.
Strangely, she may have missed out on another honour by virtue of picking up her prize: to be named as one of Wisden's five "Greats of the Women's Game". Mithali Raj of India is a worthy representative of women's cricket in the subcontinent, but "Lottie" would have been picked ahead of her in any other year.
The development angle is crucial to Edwards' legacy. She has been a tireless supporter of the Chance to Shine programme, which has introduced the game to more than a million women and girls in the UK since its inception almost a decade ago. This year has been a major landmark for women's sport as the England side were awarded central contracts, making them the first female national team in the world on proper professional terms.
Edwards' outfit achieved what their male counterparts singularly failed to do: retain the Ashes in back-to-back series. As England wobbled towards the end of the series Down Under, it was Edwards who stepped up in a T20 game at Hobart, racing to 92 off 59 balls to ensure victory.
The Almanack had already gone to press by the time her team were outplayed by the Aussies in Sunday's World Twenty20 final. Yet their progress to the final had been dependent on her consistent run-scoring at the top of the order as her team-mates fretted. Her knees may give her some grief during long days in the field, but Edwards continues to bestride the women's game like a colossus.
Woman for all seasons: Edwards' career
Born 17 Dec 1979, Huntingdon
21 Tests for England 1,621 runs @ 47.67; four centuries; HS: 117
178 ODIs 5,432 runs @ 37.20; eight centuries; HS: 173*
78 T20s 2,121 runs @ 32.13; eight fifties; HS: 92*
Appointed England captain in 2006. Player of the year 2004 and 2005. Won five Ashes series and 2009 World Cup and World Twenty20.Reuse content