Towards the end of next month, injury, form and will permitting, Charlotte Edwards will lead England for the 200th time.
Since she is almost never injured, is still at the peak of her powers and retains the enthusiasm of an ingenue, the landmark should be passed in the sixth of England’s eight matches on their tour of New Zealand, for which they leave on Saturday.
No woman comes close to Edwards’s durability in an era which has seen the transformation of the game. Although seven male cricketers have led their countries in 200 or more matches, the next on the women’s list is Merissa Aguilleira, the Trinidadian who has been West Indies captain in 137 matches.
Given the progress in women’s cricket in the past 10 years, the record may not survive long but it will still require a level of accomplishment and desire possessed by few. Edwards was made captain in 2005 and has missed only eight of the 202 matches England have played since.
At 35, she is comfortably the senior member of the squad. Her position remains rightly unchallenged ahead of this summer’s Ashes and perhaps the World Cup in 2017, although England may be preparing for the eventual succession after making the 24-year-old Heather Knight vice-captain.
England should defeat New Zealand in both the one-day series of five matches and the T20 series of three. The business part of the trip is at the start, with the first three ODIs being part of the ICC Women’s World Championship, which will determine qualification for the World Cup in England in 2017.
The eight teams are playing each other home and away in three matches. The first four in the table will qualify automatically; the bottom four will have to go into another event with six other nations.
It is aimed at promoting women’s cricket around the world, although for now the rapid recent progress in both Australia and England may see them continue to dominate. New Zealand, once the world’s top team, have struggled lately and lost heavily on a tour of West Indies late last year.
Edwards, like her colleagues Knight and Sarah Taylor, has spent the winter playing in the increasingly vibrant Australian domestic competitions. She and Knight were the top scorers in the Twenty20 tournament. Her opening partner for Western Fury in the first part of the season was Suzie Bates, who is also captain of New Zealand. The upside is that Edwards learned the strengths and weakness of Bates’s game at close quarters; the downside is that it was reciprocated.
Edwards said: “I spent a good six weeks with Suzie and it was great to play in the same team as her. I’m looking forward to going up against her. We talked about that a bit when we were in Perth.”
New Zealand’s transition does not conceal the fact that they still have some of the world’s top performers in Bates, Amy Satterthwaite and Sophie Devine. The vulnerability elsewhere should enable England to reprise their victories in New Zealand three years ago.