Anya Shrubsole was clearly a bowler to watch from her earliest performances in the England team.
Making her debut in both T20 and One-Day Internationals in 2008, she won the award for Most Promising Young Women’s Cricketer at the end of the season. Just over three years later, in early 2012, she showed that her promise was being fulfilled, claiming 5 for 11 in a T20 against New Zealand, the best figures by an England bowler in this format. A year later she was by far England’s most dangerous bowler in the 2013 ICC Women’s World Cup in India, taking 13 wickets at an average of 7.23. Fast forward one more year and an almost identical record in the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 – 13 wickets at 7.53 – earned her the Player of the Tournament award.
Shrubsole didn’t start the 2017 World Cup campaign in her best form and was four matches in before claiming her first wicket. But her momentum built towards the final, with figures of 2 for 19 against New Zealand and 1 for 12 against West Indies in the last two group matches, then an economical 1 for 33 in the semi-final against South Africa. Then, in the Final, she produced one of the most superb spells ever seen in a Lord’s final. She topped and tailed the Indian innings, bowling Smriti Mandhana with just her fourth ball and kept pegging the Indians back, taking the key wicket of Punam Raut when they were well placed on 191 for 3, needing another 38 with more than seven overs left. With the match approaching a thrilling climax, she watched as what should have been a title-winning catch went down off her bowling but held her nerve to clean bowl Rajeshwari Gayakwad soon after. Shrubsole ended with 6 for 46, and a World Cup winner’s medal. Her performances in the tournament were rewarded with nomination as one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year in 2018.