Monty's Spin On: The remarkable journey of Sophie Ecclestone

By Isabel Millett

4th Apr 2022 | Local Sport

Ex-England cricketer Monty Panesar has a regular column for one of our sister sites, Twickenham Nub News. This week, he discusses Sophie Ecclestone's journey to the World Cup.

England's brilliant young spinner, Sophie Ecclestone, has become the number one bowler in the ICC Women's Rankings during the World Cup.

During the semi-final against South Africa, she took her best bowling figures of 6-36. And it might even be argued that her impact on this England team is similar to that achieved in Australia by the great Shane Warne.

Like me, she is a left arm spinner and has a lovely rhythmical action. She is an entertainer and the joy that she brings to the field is infectious.

Technically, she is superb. Her ability to deceive the batters in the flight comes from the variation in her pivot. When she pivots slower, the ball is flighted higher with more dip on the ball.

At the same time, she has the advantage of being a tall bowler, which allows her to create natural bounce from the pitch, while her control of the line is impeccable.

England began the tournament with three consecutive defeats and they were on the verge of being knocked out. This extraordinary turnaround in their results, with five wins in a row, is something very special.

They stormed into the final of the Women's Cricket World Cup with a forceful 137-run victory over South Africa. This was undoubtedly the stand-out performance by any team in the competition.

Ecclestone bowled brilliantly when taking her six wickets. And now Heather Knight's team has an opportunity to become first the England side to win back-to-back World Cups.

Ecclestone was 18 when England were victorious last time round. Then, she was a young net bowler, helping the stars fine-tune their technique.

That must feel a long time ago now, as she finds herself as the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 18. At the same time, she is ranked number one in both T20 and One Day International cricket.

It is astonishing that – to date - Ecclestone has only played two test matches, but that is merely a reflection of the dearth of Test Match cricket in the women's game.

Her rise has been phenomenal. In 2018 she was included in England's squad for the 2018 ICC T20 World Cup and during that year ICC named her the Emerging Player of the Year.

In the summer of 2019, she was again included in England's squad for the Women's Ashes. Then she was named in England's squad for the ICC T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia.

Her cricket began when she played in the garden with her brother James. The pair grew up in Cheshire and played together at their local club Alvanley in Cheshire.

In her younger days, she would bowl one over of spin and seam, before concentrating on developing her skills as a spinner.

She has a really good temperament for the game. Normally cricketers get nervous or anxious before a game, but she likes to keep herself entertained.

As we look ahead to the final on Sunday, Ecclestone will hoping to maintain her form and success against a strong Australia team, who are, deservedly, considered to be the best in the world.

A record of losing just one ODI game since 2017 confirms that Australia remain strong favourites,

During the group stages, England couldn't imagine being in the final. But now, the whole team is on a high and the momentum is with them. Miracles do happen in sport.


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