Ashes will prove to be a seminal moment for women’s cricket – Isa Guha

Isa Guha believes Heather Knight’s England can complete a remarkable turnaround to win the Women’s Ashes but feels the series has already proven to be a “seminal moment” for the sport.

England were 6-0 down in the multi-format series after narrow defeats in the one-off Test and the opening T20 at Edgbaston last month, but have hit back to win the next three matches to level up the scores and victories in the final two ODIs over the next week will see them reclaim the urn.

Sage ambassador Guha has been across the action as part of both Sky Sports and BBC’s coverage and agrees with England bowler Kate Cross that the aura of world champions Australia has slowly been chipped away.

She told the PA news agency: “For me I always believed they could beat Australia, but it was a question of whether they did. Then there is one thing believing it and another thing actually doing it.

“There were so many times on that last Ashes tour where they would get themselves into positions to win and almost psychologically break down and not believe they could really get over the line against Australia.

“Something I heard from Kate Cross was they have taken away the Australians aura and that is what has allowed them to win these games.

“That ruthlessness to have the composure in the big moments is what had been lacking, but now they have won games it will unlock their potential even more, so that is what makes it even more exciting.”

Each match of the series has provided twists and turns with different starring roles – Tammy Beaumont hitting 208 in the Test at Trent Bridge while Sophie Ecclestone claimed a 10-wicket haul.

Since the format switched to white-ball cricket, Sophia Dunkley, Danni Wyatt, Alice Capsey and Knight have all had key contributions and in doing so further cemented their place as role models for the next generation.

Ex-seamer Guha – involved in three successful Ashes series as a player – feels the impact of this summer’s battle will be significant regardless of the results in the final two ODIs at the Ageas Bowl (Sunday) and Taunton (Tuesday).

“I always knew it could be,” Guha reflected when asked if she anticipated such a thrilling series.

“There was always a feeling it could be possible, but it is mad.

“I remember being part of the 2005 Ashes and we were spurring each other on. People didn’t really know we were playing back then so that is probably the difference to now but there is something in the air. It feels a really seminal moment for our sport.

Heather Knight (right) and Kate Cross celebrate Wednesday's T20 victory
Heather Knight (right) and Kate Cross celebrate Wednesday’s T20 victory (David Davies/PA)

“I think women’s cricket is only going in one way. It is the fastest growing area of our sport and to see that investment paying off, that makes us all feel good about the bigger picture of women’s cricket at the top level.

“There is still a lot more to be done at grassroots level and in the pathways, but certainly the inspiration that is coming out of this whole series is incredible.

“To have a team that is competing with arguably the greatest team that has ever been, yeah that is enough to get excited about. Whatever the result, it has certainly been a win for the sport.”

Both the women’s and men’s Ashes are being played against the backdrop of cricket’s struggle to rid the game of discrimination.

The Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) report published last month identified ingrained racism, sexism and classism within the sport in England and Wales, with among its key recommendations that there be immediate equality in men’s and women’s international match fees.

Guha highlighted the viewing figures when reflecting on the need for equal pay.

She added: “The numbers are there for everyone to see as well.

“This is one I thought was really amazing. On Sky 965,000 watched England beat Australia over four days in the third men’s Test at Headingley, so that is a daily figure while 795,000 watched Heather Knight’s side win (the T20) on Saturday night.

“If there is any evidence the girls need to be paid more, there you go.

“The argument that always comes around is how many eyeballs they get and that is the perfect example of how women’s cricket is being captured. It has captured the imagination of the population.”

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