Charlotte Edwards says winning the Women's World Cup in India will be England's greatest achievement
Last Updated: January 11, 2013 2:55pm
Captain Charlotte Edwards says England can eclipse their 2009 World Cup triumph by successfully defending their crown this year.
England beat New Zealand by four wickets in Sydney four years ago to win the title for a third time in nine attempts, but Edwards told Sky Sports News that it will be tougher to retain the title given they'll have to do so in sub-continental conditions in India.
Edwards' side begin their campaign against Sri Lanka on February 2 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai - a match you can see live on Sky Sports - before they take on hosts India and the West Indies in a tough-looking Group A.
But the 33-year-old said: "We're really confident. We've prepared well over the last three months and our recent form suggests that we are going in as No 1; India is going to be the hardest place for us to win the World Cup, but it's a challenge we are up for and hopefully we can succeed.
"I believe this is going to be our greatest achievement as a team if we win the World Cup in India."
"In 2009 we had a group of players who had been together for a few years; we were very clear about our roles and we took our chances. You need a bit of luck along the way in World Cups - that's something we certainly had and hopefully we can do the same out in India.
"I believe this is going to be our greatest achievement as a team if we win the World Cup in India. Playing in India is a hard challenge for an England team but it's one we're really looking forward to and without doubt I think it will be the highlight if we are successful."
Edwards, who has played 160 ODIs since making her debut in 1997, added: "We know we can't take any of the teams lightly. We've got Sri Lanka and India first and they'll be used to their own conditions, so it's going to be a tough couple of games up front and then the West Indies.
"We've got a tough group; we won't be taking any of them lightly. We've got to win every game if we are going to win this World Cup and hopefully we can start well."
England go into the tournament just months after losing the World Twenty20 final to Australia on the very last ball, but wicket-keeper batsman Sarah Taylor said the memory of that defeat will simply spur the side on to greater efforts.
"It was gutting; we don't want to feel like that again," said Taylor. "We just want to look forward to the World Cup and I know it has probably spurred us on a lot more to do really well in India.
"Although it is gutting to go through, it is something that you've got to learn from and hopefully we will bounce back."
According to figures released by Sport England at the end of last year, a record 15.5 million people aged 16 and over are now playing sport at least once a week - a rise of 750,000 across the year, over two thirds of whom are women
Plus, statistics unveiled last July showed there had been a 12 per cent increase in the number of under-25 females taking part in the Sky Sports ECB Coaching Programme.
Edwards hopes she and her team can inspire more young women to take up cricket in the years to come by achieving greater success on the pitch.
"Hopefully it's a bright future for women's cricket. The increased coverage we now get on Sky Sports means more young girls can see us play and have a role-model and hopefully they want to take up the game, which is the most important thing.
"We want more young girls playing at grass-roots level and the future looks really bright. The game is unrecognisable from the one I knew when I started playing cricket 16 years ago, so if we see the same difference in the next 10 years the sky is the limit."
Watch coverage of the ICC Women's World Cup on Sky Sports, starting with India v West Indies on January 31.